BEIJING/WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Washington and Beijing both claimed victory on Monday as the world’s two largest economies stepped back from the brink of a global trade war and agreed to hold further talks to boost U.S. exports to China.
Over the weekend, the two sides pledged to keep talking about how China could import more energy and agricultural commodities from the United States so as to narrow the $335 billion annual U.S. goods and services trade deficit with China, although details and a firm timeline were thin.
The biggest immediate beneficiary appeared to be China, which won a reprieve from threatened tariffs on $50 billion of its exports to the United States as well as a lifeline for ZTE Corp , a major company whose existence had been threatened by U.S. sanctions.
The United States meanwhile appeared to have won promises of more imports by China, although there were no specifics.
Economists at Morgan Stanley estimated exports of U.S. agricultural products, primarily beef, and energy, mostly liquified natural gas, could add between $60 billion and $90 billion to sales to China over a period of years. That is far less than the $200 billion reduction in China’s trade surplus that President Donald Trump had demanded at the start of talks.
“China has agreed to buy massive amounts of ADDITIONAL Farm/Agricultural Products – would be one of the best things to happen to our farmers in many years!” Trump wrote on Twitter on Monday.
China’s government praised the cooling of trade tensions with the United States, saying agreement was in both nations’ interests while state media trumpeted what it saw as Beijing’s refusal to surrender to U.S. economic threats.