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China ‘confident’ trade agreement with US can be reached within 90 days – official

Beijing wants to strike a trade deal with Washington within three months, China’s commerce ministry announced Thursday in its first comment on US-China trade negotiations since presidents Xi and Trump met in Argentina.

“We are confident in reaching an agreement (with the US) within the next 90 days,” China’s commerce ministry spokesman Gao Feng said in a weekly briefing on Thursday. The official added that both sides have been communicating and cooperating since the two countries’ leaders, US President Donald Trump and China’s Xi Jinping, met at the G20 summit in Buenos Aires.

Trump agreed to postpone further tariff hikes during talks between Washington and Beijing as part of the 90-days trade war ceasefire. The commerce ministry said that China will “immediately implement the consensus reached by the two sides on farm products, cars and energy.” American and Chinese officials are also planning to discuss intellectual property protection, technical cooperation, market access and their trade balance, according to Gao.

Beijing was silent on the results of the Buenos Aires summit for days. While the US leader’s rhetoric at first encouraged investors, the enthusiasm evaporated on Tuesday, sending US stocks plummeting.

The latest statement comes after the arrest of a senior executive of Chinese telecom giant Huawei in Canada at the request of Washington. Meng Wanzhou, Huawei’s chief financial officer and the daughter of the company’s founder, is suspected by the US of violations of the trade embargo against Iran and is now facing extradition to the US.

China has voiced a strong protest against the arrest and demanded explanations from both Ottawa and Washington. The Chinese Foreign Ministry said the countries “must clarify the reasons for the detention, and immediately release” Meng.

The arrest sparked fears among investors that the US-China trade war may only escalate. Main Asian stock markets plunged after the news, with the Shanghai Composite Index losing 1.3 percent and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng dropping 2.52 percent.

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