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Sino-US deal eases access to markets

By LI XIANG in Beijing and PAUL WELITZKIN in New York | chinadaily.com.cn | Updated: 2017-05-15 10:14

China and the US have reached a new deal that will ease market access in agriculture, financial services and energy, marking both sides' willingness to advance the trade relationship and alleviating fears of a trade war between the world's two largest economies.

The 10-part deal is the first result of the 100-day action plan that President Xi Jinping and US President Donald Trump agreed to pursue at their meeting at Mar-a-Lago in Florida in April. It will start in mid-July.

Under the deal announced by the Trump administration on May 11, China agreed to resume imports of US beef by July 16. In return, the US agreed to open its market to Chinese cooked poultry.

The agreement would also streamline the evaluation of pending US biotechnology product applications and facilitate the entrance of Chinese banks into the US banking market.

Beijing and Washington also agreed to discuss extending the initial 100-day action plan to a one-year plan.

Both sides will hold the first meeting of the Comprehensive Economic Dialogue during the summer this year.

Vice-Finance Minister Zhu Guangyao said the deal was a result of cooperation based on the principle of mutual benefits, stressing that the agreement was not "a list of one side's concessions".

"The Chinese and US teams carried out nearly 30 rounds of consultation to achieve the agreement. It was a result of cooperation and reflected the expectations of the people of the two countries," Zhu told reporters at a news conference on Friday.

Vice-Commerce Minister Yu Jianhua said the agreement altered the expectation of a possible trade war between the two sides, adding that stable China-US relations will be a "positive force" for the recovery of the global economy.

In announcing the agreement on Thursday evening, US Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said "US-China relationships are now hitting a new high, especially in trade."

He hailed the agreement as "a herculean accomplishment" forged in record time.

"This will help us to bring down the deficit for sure," Ross said at media briefing in Washington. "You watch and you'll see."

In the energy sector, the US already is shipping some liquefied natural gas to China and said it could negotiate any type of contract, including long-term contracts, with US suppliers.

In financial services, China pledged to grant market access to US credit rating agencies and credit card companies and agreed to issue licenses to "two qualified US financial institutions" for the interbank bond underwriting and settlement business.

Ross told CNBC that the US also had agreed to treat Chinese financial institutions the same way as other foreign banks that want to open activities in the US.

"Clearly China, whose banks are among the largest in the whole world, wants access to the US banking market," he said. "As long as they can comply with the normal rules, they will get access."

In 2003, China imposed an import ban on US beef due to a case of mad cow disease in Washington state. It had conditionally lifted the ban, but few purchases have been made.

On the resumption of US beef exports to China, Ross said: "It's a very big market; it's at least a $2.5 billion market that's being opened."

The beef agreement also drew praise from the National Cattlemen's Beef Association.

"It's impossible to overstate how beneficial this will be for America's cattle producers," Craig Uden, president of the association, said in a statement.

"We look forward to providing nearly 1.4 billion new customers in China with the same US beef that we feed our families."

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