President Donald Trump

President Donald Trump complained again this past week that China wasn’t buying the large volumes of U.S. agricultural goods that he claims the country promised to purchase.

Face-to-face negotiations between the top Chinese and U.S. trade negotiators could happen soon, according to Chinese state media, after a number of goodwill gestures by Beijing over the weekend.

Chinese companies asked U.S. exporters about buying agricultural products and also applied for exemptions from China’s retaliatory tariffs on the goods, state-run Xinhua News Agency reported July 21.

That shows China’s “goodwill” and its commitment to fulfill its promises to the U.S., Xinhua said in a separate commentary.

The two sides have been “cautiously showing each other sincerity and goodwill” recently and may meet for discussions soon, according to Taoran Notes, a blog run by the state-owned Economic Daily newspaper.

The Chinese government met on July 19 with domestic soybean buyers about a plan to purchase more U.S. supplies, according to people familiar with the situation. That could include waiving China’s retaliatory tariffs, but details aren’t decided yet, the people said.

Senior White House officials invited U.S. technology companies including Intel Corp. and Qualcomm Inc. to the White House on July 22 to discuss a resumption of sales to Huawei, which is currently on a trade blacklist, according to people familiar with the matter.

With China’s top leadership likely to be out of Beijing from early August for their annual seaside conclave, it is highly likely that a meeting between Vice Premier Liu He and his U.S. counterparts is not far away, according to the Taoran Notes post.

The two sides spoke by phone July 18 to discuss “the next step of negotiations,” indicating a move toward face-to-face talks, Taoran said.

The call last week was the second since the two nations’ presidents met in Japan in late June.

Still, there was a note of caution in the reports. Taoran said the tariffs imposed on Chinese products must be entirely removed or they would be an irritant during the talks. The removal of the tariffs is one of three core conditions that China has made for any deal.

Slow progress and disagreement on key initial demands from Presidents Donald Trump and Xi Jinping had been raising doubts about whether the U.S. and China will actually return to the negotiating table to overcome their much deeper differences.

Trump complained again this past week that China wasn’t buying the large volumes of U.S. agricultural goods that he claims Xi promised to purchase.

“I’ve said repeatedly this is not a 10-minute process,” Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross told Fox Business July 17. “This is a long, involved process.”

In addition to differing interpretations of what the two sides agreed to at the Group of 20 summit in late June, the countries have to decide whether to resume talks based on the draft agreement that collapsed in May or to start again.

Trump boasted at a press conference after his meeting with Xi that the Chinese had agreed to buy “tremendous” amounts of agricultural goods. But a person familiar with the exchange said Beijing wants to see the Trump administration issue special licenses for U.S. suppliers to resume shipments to Huawei before buying more crops.

Beyond agriculture and Huawei, the sides remain at odds over significant issues such as Washington’s demands for structural reforms to China’s economy and Beijing’s call for the U.S. to remove all existing punitive tariffs on imports from China.


Additional reporting by Jenny Leonard and Miao Han.