US, China extend talks on trade battle for 3rd day

US, China

BEIJING — U.S. and Chinese envoys extended trade talks into a third day Wednesday after President Donald Trump said negotiations aimed at ending a tariff war were “going very well!”

The two sides announced no details, but Asian stock markets rose on news of the decision to extend negotiations that originally were planned for two days. Hong Kong’s main market index rose 2.3 percent while Tokyo was up 1.3 percent.

Envoys are meeting face-to-face for the first time since Trump and his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping, agreed Dec. 1 to suspend further punitive action against each other’s imports for 90 days while they negotiate over the fight sparked by American complaints Beijing steals or pressures companies to hand over technology.

“Talks with China are going very well!” Trump said late Tuesday on Twitter.

Washington is pressing Beijing for changes including rolling back plans for government-led creation of Chinese global champions in robotics and other fields. Europe, Japan and other trading partners echo Washington’s complaints that those violate Beijing’s market-opening obligations.

Chinese officials have suggested Beijing might alter its industrial plans but reject pressure to abandon what they consider a path to prosperity and global influence. They have tried to defuse pressure for more sweeping change by offering concessions including purchasing more American soybeans, natural gas and other exports.

Neither side has given any indication its basic position has changed. Economists say the 90-day window is too short to resolve all the conflicts in trade relations between the biggest and second-biggest global economies.

Trump’s “cheerleading tweet” feeds hopes for a settlement, Mizuho Bank’s Vishnu Varathan said in a report. However, he cautioned, “Even if a deal is cobbled together, the more strident trade hawks in the White House and Trump may not sign off.”

On Tuesday, an official Chinese newspaper warned Washington “cannot push China too far” and must avoid a situation that “spins out of control.”

The talks went ahead despite tension over the arrest of a Chinese tech executive in Canada on U.S. charges related to possible violations of trade sanctions against Iran.

The American delegation is led by a deputy U.S. trade representative, Jeffrey D. Gerrish, and includes agriculture, energy, commerce, treasury and State Department officials.

US, China

Trump has imposed tariff increases of up to 25 percent on $250 billion of Chinese imports. China responded by imposing penalties on $110 billion of American goods, slowing customs clearance for U.S. companies and suspending issuing licenses in finance and other businesses.

Cooling economic growth in both countries is increasing pressure to reach a settlement.

Car and property sales have slumped as Chinese growth fell to a post-global crisis low of 6.5 percent in the quarter ending in September.

The U.S. economy grew at an annual rate of 3.4 percent in the third quarter but surveys show consumer confidence weakening.

For its part, Beijing is unhappy with U.S. export and investment curbs, suggesting it might demand concessions.

Chinese officials complain about controls on “dual use” technology with possible military applications. They say China’s companies are treated unfairly in national security reviews of proposed corporate acquisitions, though almost all deals are approved unchanged.

Brexit ‘no-deal’ measure: UK Parliament votes to create financial obstacle if deal isn’t reached

Brexit

British Prime Minister Theresa May suffered another setback to her Brexit withdrawal deal Tuesday as members of her own Conservative Party joined opposition Labour Party MPs in favor of a vote to curb the government’s spending powers if Britain fails to secure an agreement deal on its departure from the European Union.

Parliamentary members voted 303 to 296 in favor of an amendment to the Finance Bill that will restrict May from amending taxes to cope with the consequences of crashing out of the European Union without an agreement.

The measure isn’t expected to carry significant weight in the event of a no-deal Brexit. Robert Jenrick, a Conservative MP and the exchequer secretary to the Treasury said the Finance Bill amendment would only allow MPs power to make “minor technical changes.”

But the vote did carry symbolic weight: Parliamentarians are pushing back on a no-deal scenario.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn called the vote an “important step to prevent a no-deal Brexit,” saying it proved there is no parliamentary support for a no-deal Brexit.

 

Ian Murray, a Labour MP who supports People’s Vote, a group campaigning for a second referendum, said Parliament has “now asserted its authority and sovereignty and effectively exposed the threat of no deal as an empty one.”

“The threat of a no deal Brexit has [been] cynically used by the government for many months as part of their campaign to bully and intimidate Parliament into voting for a bad deal that would leave us worse off and offers less control,” Murray said in a statement on the People’s Vote website, adding that Tuesday’s events demonstrated that Parliament “can still act decisively.”

“What it now must do is hand the decision back to the people,” Murray said.

Parliament is due to vote on the divorce deal next week. If May ultimately fails to push the agreement through, the chances of the country crashing out of the European Union without a deal will soar.

Britain is scheduled to leave the European Union in 80 days.

Bolton leaves Turkey on sour note over Trump’s Syria plans

Trump Syria plans

National security adviser John Bolton left here in frustration Tuesday, with the U.S. and Turkey locked in a political standoff that threatens President Donald Trump’s plans for a troop withdrawal from Syria.

Bolton left Turkey without seeing Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who then publicly called earlier comments the top Trump aide had made about Turkey’s role in neighboring Syria a “serious mistake.”

It was a rocky conclusion to Bolton’s overseas trip, which he undertook to explain Trump’s plans for Syria to key U.S. allies. The contretemps also illustrated the risk for Bolton in conducting diplomacy abroad — a role that is not traditionally part of a national security adviser’s portfolio, but one he seems to relish.

On one of several trips abroad he has taken since assuming his job last April, Bolton also found himself casting an eye back home, denouncing media reports suggesting that he and the president were on different pages when it comes to Syria policy.

Bolton, traveling in a U.S. government 757 jet often used by Vice President Mike Pence, left Turkey after Erdogan skipped an anticipated meeting with the Trump adviser and criticized him in a speech to his parliament. The Turkish leader is furious over Bolton’s insistence that U.S. forces would remain in Syria until his country agreed not to attack Kurdish forces in Syria who have fought alongside American troops against the Islamic State.

Bolton had hoped to reach a consensus with Erdogan over a roadmap for a U.S. troop withdrawal which would allow the U.S. to defeat the remnants of the Islamic State, also known as ISIS, while also containing Iran’s military presence in Syria.

But Washington and Ankara are increasingly butting heads over whether and how to protect Syria’s Kurdish fighters after U.S. troops leave.

Despite the sour reception from Erdogan, officials say Bolton’s visit here was worthwhile: He met for more than two hours with his counterpart, Turkish national security adviser Ibrahim Kalin, and the country’s deputy defense and foreign ministers.

According to a U.S. official in that meeting, Bolton presented the Turks with a document listing terms governing the pullout of American forces in a “deliberate, orderly and strong manner.” He also committed to keep some troops at the al-Tanf garrison in southeast Syria near the Jordanian border, which is used to monitor the flow of Iranian arms and forces. And he said the U.S. would help secure the airspace over northeast Syria.

Trump Syria plans

But in language clearly alluding to the long-oppressed Kurds, Bolton added that the United States wanted “the protection of all civilians, particularly local minority populations.”

“The United States opposes any mistreatment of opposition forces who fought with us against ISIS,” the document said.

In Jerusalem on Sunday, Bolton had previewed that tough message, which he planned to deliver directly to Erdogan: President Trump would not pull out the troops until Turkey guaranteed it would not — in the words of Secretary of State Mike Pompeo — “slaughter the Kurds.”

That stance angered Erdogan, who, hours before Bolton’s arrival, published an op-ed in the New York Times insisting his government had “no argument with the Syrian Kurds,” although Ergodan went on to brand Turkey’s Y.P.G. militia as a “terrorist” group that could have no political role in Syria’s future.

Erdogan said that Trump made the right call to withdraw from Syria and proposed a “stabilization force” for Syria, which he said Turkey would stand up and vet. He promised to “cooperate with our actions with our friends and allies.”