The two presidents have hit the pause button on protectionist measures

By the Associated Press – in Philippines Daily Tribune

OSAKA, Japan, June 29, 2019 — President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping agreed to a new cease-fire Saturday in a yearlong trade war during their meeting on the sidelines of a conference in Japan, averting, at least for now, an escalation feared by financial markets and the business community while negotiations continue.

Xinhua, the Chinese state-run news agency, said the leaders had agreed that stalled trade talks would resume and that the US would hold off on threatened additional tariffs on Chinese goods. The two leaders had sought to find an off-ramp to a burgeoning trade war between the economic powerhouses despite doubts about their willingness to compromise on a long-term solution. Trump had said earlier that relations with China were “right back on track.

The apparent truce marks a pattern for talks between Trump and Xi, who have professed their friendship with each other and hit the pause button on protectionist measures after their conversations, only to see negotiations later break down over the contentious details.

White House officials declined immediate comment. But President Donald Trump said earlier Saturday that he would make an announcement on the results of his talks during a news conference later in the day.

Taking place on the sidelines of the Group of 20 summit in Japan, the meeting with Xi marked the centerpiece of four days of diplomacy for Trump, whose re-election chances have been put at risk by the trade war that has hurt American farmers and battered global markets.

Tensions rose in recent weeks after negotiations collapsed last month.

At a subsequent meeting with Turkey’s president, Trump said talks with Xi went “probably even better than expected.”

“The negotiations are continuing,” he said.

Seated across a lengthy table flanked by top aides, both leaders struck a cautiously optimistic tone after they posed for photographs.

“We’ve had an excellent relationship,” Trump told Xi as the meeting opened, “but we want to do something that will even it up with respect to trade.”

Xi, for his part, recounted the era of “ping-pong diplomacy” that helped jump-start US-China relations two generations ago. Since then, he said, “one basic fact remains unchanged: China and the United States both benefit from cooperation and lose in confrontation.”

“Cooperation and dialogue are better than friction and confrontation,” he added.

The diplomacy plays out as Trump’s re-election campaign battle is beginning to heat up. It’s a contest that could be partially defined by whether a resolution to the trade war with China can be found before more economic pain is inflicted on Americans.

The president has threatened to impose tariffs on an additional $300 billion in Chinese imports — on top of the $250 billion in goods he’s already taxed — extending his import taxes to virtually everything China ships to the United States. He has said the new tariffs, which are paid by US importers and usually passed onto consumers, might start at 10%. Earlier, the administration had said additional tariffs might reach 25 percent.

The two countries are sparring over the Trump administration’s allegations that Beijing steals technology and coerces foreign companies into handing over trade secrets. China denies it engages in such practices. The US has also tried to rally other nations to block Chinese telecom firm Huawei from their upcoming 5G systems, branding the company a national security threat and barring it from buying American technology.