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China and the United States have agreed to keep talking about their trade dispute, the Chinese government said on Tuesday, as U.S. President Donald Trump said he thought recent discussions in Beijing would be successful.
The slightly more optimistic comments came after both sides ramped up their trade war, with China announcing details of new tariffs against U.S. imports on Monday, following a U.S. move last week to target Chinese imports.
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The U.S. Trade Representative’s office said it planned to hold a public hearing next month on the possibility of imposing duties of up to 25% on a further $300 billion worth of imports from China. Cellphones and laptops would be included in that list but pharmaceuticals would be excluded, the office said.
The prospect of the global economy being derailed by the United States and China sliding into a fiercer, more protracted dispute has rattled investors and sparked a sharp selloff on equities markets in the past week.
“My understanding is that China and the United States have agreed to continue pursuing relevant discussions. As for how they are pursued, I think that hinges upon further consultations between the two sides,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang told a daily news briefing, without giving details.
But China will not be bullied, he added: “We hope that the U.S. side does not misjudge the situation and not underestimate China’s determination and will to safeguard its interests.”
Sources have said talks stalled after China tried to delete commitments from a draft agreement that its laws would be changed to enact new policies on issues from intellectual property protection to forced technology transfers.
Geng said China had shown sincerity by still sending a high level delegation to the United States for talks last week and that China has remained calm in the face of pressure.
He put the blame on Washington for going back on its word in some previous rounds of talks, including last May, when the two reached an agreement in Washington but then the United States backed out a few days later.
“So you absolutely can’t put the hat on China of reversing positions and going back on one’s promises,” Geng said, adding China had shown goodwill in the talks and kept its promises.
The Shanghai Composite Index lost 0.7% and the blue chip CSI 300 was 0.6% lower on Tuesday. But both indexes rebounded from opening down 1%, supported by suspected state-backed purchases.
However, the onshore yuan weakened 0.1% to its lowest level since Dec. 27, 2018, trading at 6.8874 per dollar, after the foreign ministry said it hoped the United States would not underestimate China’s determination to defend its interests.
The ruling Communist Party’s official People’s Daily said in a commentary that the United States needed to “give it a rest” with the complaints that it was losing out to China in the trade relationship.
China is not to blame for the huge trade deficit the United States runs, and China was a hugely profitable market for U.S. companies, the paper said, in a commentary published under the pen name “Zhong Sheng”, meaning “voice of China”.
“U.S. consumers, farmers, businesses and so on have become the victims of the trade frictions provoked by the United States. They are not victims of China’s ‘unfair competition.’”
Trump, who has embraced protectionism, also repeated the rhetoric of his “America First” agenda in an string of early morning tweets on Tuesday.
“We are in a fantastic position,” he wrote on Twitter, calling on U.S. companies to make more products in the United States and praising his tariffs on imported steel for boosting domestic producers.
Israel election: Netanyahu, Gantz battle too close
Israel’s election was too close to call on Wednesday, with a partial vote tally showing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu tied with his main rival, former military chief Benny Gantz.
An official result was still hours, perhaps days off. But with more than 63 percent of votes counted, theis Netanyahu-led right-wing bloc was, as expected, more or less even with Gantz’s center-left.
With no single-party majority in the 120-seat Knesset, or parliament, there will likely be weeks of coalition talks before a new government is formed.
The ballot’s wildcard, former Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman, emerged as a likely kingmaker as head of the secular-nationalist Yisrael Beitenu party.
Lieberman has been pushing for a unity government comprised of the biggest parties. He declined to back Netanyahu’s bid to form a narrow right-wing and religious coalition after an April election, bringing about Tuesday’s unprecedented repeat vote.
Addressing Likud party faithful, Netanyahu, Israel’s longest-serving premier, sipped water frequently and spoke hoarsely. He made no claim of victory or concession of defeat, saying he would await final results.
His dead-of-night appearance was a far cry from his triumphant – and in the end premature – declaration five months ago that he had won a close election.
Gantz was more upbeat, telling a rally of his Blue and White party that it appeared “we fulfilled our mission”, and he pledged to work toward forming of a unity government.
Inflation rate falls to 1.7%
The office for National statistics says the consumer price index is 1.7%-down from 2.1% – in August
Head of inflation at ONS Mike Hardie said: “The inflation rate has fallen noticeably into August, to its lowest since late 2016. This was mainly driven by a decrease in computer game prices, plus clothing prices rising by less than year after the end of the summer sales.
“Annual growth in house prices slowed to its lowest rate since September 2012, with four of the nine English regions now seeing prices falling over the year”.
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