On March 5th, China’s Commerce Minister Zhong Shan responded to a question regarding China-US trade and economic consultations at the “Ministers’ Corridor” during the annual session of the 2019 NPC.
Zhong Shan said that first China and the US are holding economic and trade consultations to jointly implement the important consensus between the two Presidents. He stressed the word “jointly”. Last December, President Xi Jinping and President Trump reached important consensus during their successful meeting in Buenos Aires, Argentina. The two sides agreed not to implement the planned tariff hike, but to address each other’s economic and trade concerns through consultations with clear principles and timelines. It was a successful and historic meeting, and indeed the biggest highlight of the G20 Summit. After the meeting, the stock markets of the two countries started to rally and drove up global stock market, fully demonstrating that the leaders’ consensus represents the common aspiration of the two countries and the expectation of the international community.
Second, the principle of the consultations agreed by the two Presidents: mutual respect, equality and mutual benefit. Mutual respect means respecting each other’s social systems and development models; equality and mutual benefit mean that the consultations should be held on an equal footing and the outcomes must be win-win. This is the principle guiding the two teams in their consultations over the last 90 days.
Third, people are interested in knowing the progress of the consultations. Within 90 days, the two sides conducted three rounds of high-level consultations. Not long ago, as the Special Envoy of President Xi Jinping, Vice Premier Liu He led a Chinese delegation to the United States for consultations, which have been arduous and difficult. The process is arduous because the two countries differ greatly in system, culture and stage of development. In order to reach a consensus, the two sides need to seek common ground while shelving differences and make great efforts, which is not easy at all. The process is also difficult, because the consultations were held within a very short timeframe. A two-day consultation had been arranged and later two more days were added, but the schedule was still tight and many topics needed to be covered. Teams on both sides worked at all hours day and night. They worked very hard and in a professional way. After 90 days of effective consultations, the two sides made important initial progress and breakthrough in some areas. The two sides have agreed to extend the negotiations, during which both sides will not raise the tariffs. We should cherish such hard-earned achievement.
Zhang Shan said that President Xi Jinping stressed that cooperation is the best choice for both China and the US. Consultations continue at the working level and a lot of work remains to be done, which makes it even more necessary for China and the US to make joint efforts toward the same target. If an agreement is reached, it will benefit the economy of the two countries and the world.