China’s president offers US possible trade concessions

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BEIJING (AP) — President Xi Jinping promised Tuesday to cut China’s auto tariffs and improve intellectual property protection in possible concessions aimed at defusing a worsening dispute with Washington over trade and technology that investors worry could set back the global economic recovery.

Speaking at a business conference, Xi made no direct mention of his American counterpart, Donald Trump, or the dispute. He promised progress on areas that are U.S. priorities including opening China’s banking industry and boosting imports but didn’t address key irritants for Washington such as a requirement for foreign companies to work through joint ventures that require them to give technology to potential local competitors.

Private sector analysts saw Xi’s speech as an overture to help end the biggest trade dispute since World War II. It has fueled fears of a global economic chill if other nations respond with their own import barriers.

Markets surged in response in Asia, Europe and also in the U.S., where the Dow jumped 300 points before the opening bell Tuesday.

Xi tried to position China as a defender of free trade and cooperation, despite its status as the most-closed major economy, in response to Trump’s “America first” calls for import restrictions and trade deals that are more favorable to the United States.

“China’s door of opening up will not be closed and will only open wider,” said Xi at the Boao Forum for Asia on the southern island of Hainan.

Xi said Beijing will “significantly lower” tariffs on auto imports this year and ease restrictions on foreign ownership in the auto industry “as soon as possible.”

Trump has threatened to raise tariffs on Chinese goods worth $50 billion in response to complaints Beijing pressures foreign companies to hand over technology in violation of its World Trade Organization market-opening commitments. Beijing fired back with its own $50 billion list of U.S. goods for possible retaliation.

The Chinese leader promised to encourage “normal technological exchange” and to “protect the lawful ownership rights of foreign enterprises.”

“President Xi’s speech could create a very good platform to launch U.S.-China dialogue at the WTO to find a deal on intellectual property rights,” said economist Rajiv Biswas of IHS Markit in a report. “This would be a victory for the world trading system and an important step away from the abyss of rising global protectionism.”

The dispute is likely to end “with a concession from China,” said Larry Hu of Macquarie Group in a report…

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This article (China’s president offers US possible trade concessions) was originally published on AP News and syndicated by The Event Chronicle

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