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US will look for China to open markets

US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said they will be looking for specific, "concrete" agreements from Beijing to increase United States access to China's growing consumer markets in bilateral economic talks on Wednesday.

At a business lunch on Tuesday, Mnuchin said he hoped China would lift foreign ownership restrictions in its financial services sector to allow more US participation, and remove barriers to trade in its information and communication technology sector.

"My hope is that we can increase our focus on concrete and targeted commitments to address both short-term and long-term strategic challenges," Mnuchin said at the luncheon of mainly business executives with China ties.

Ross said some initial deals announced in April, as part of a 100-day economic plan aimed at reducing the US trade deficit with China, were a "good start".

These include the sale of US beef in China for the first time in 14 years and commitments to open up narrow areas of China's financial services sector, such as credit card services and credit ratings agencies.

Some of these agreements are yet to be implemented, and there has been little evidence of progress on thornier issues, such as excess capacity in China's steel and aluminium sectors.

A looming Trump administration decision on whether to impose broad steel tariffs based on national security concerns is casting a cloud of uncertainty over the talks, which have been rebranded this year as the "US-China Comprehensive Economic Dialogue".

China trade experts said they expect new announcements on small openings of China's markets or specific purchases of US goods, but these will not substantially alter the bilateral economic relationship.

It would be more beneficial for US interests if China would agree to end subsidies for state-owned enterprises and stop the theft of intellectual property, said Derek Scissors, a China trade expert at the conservative American Enterprise Institute in Washington.

But such larger reforms are unlikely to come before China's 19th Party Congress this autumn, where senior officials will want to preserve economic stability, Scissors added.

The annual bilateral talks, launched in 2006 and expanded by former President Barack Obama to include strategic and security issues, have been pared back under Trump to focus on trade and economic issues.

Austrlaian Associated PressBack to Breaking News

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