China says efforts ‘accelerated’ on US trade deal

China said Thursday that its negotiators have “accelerated efforts” to hammer out the details of a partial deal with the United States, as the two sides edge towards an agreement in a lingering trade war.

The initial deal was announced on Friday by US President Donald Trump and included promises to increase purchases of US farm products and protections for intellectual property — but lacked specific details.

“At present, the economic and trade teams of the two sides have accelerated efforts and consultations on arriving at a specific text for the first phase of the agreement,” Chinese commerce ministry spokesman Gao Feng said at a regular briefing in Beijing.

The two sides were also working towards an “early agreement”, he said, without offering details.

Trump said Wednesday that he hopes to sign the agreement with his Chinese counterpart President Xi Jinping at the APEC summit in Chile next month.

But Gao declined to say whether the text of the partial deal, or a full agreement, would be ready before the mid-November deadline.

“The two sides have also had substantive discussions on the work arrangement for the next stage,” he said.

Trump — who heralded the partial deal on Friday as a major breakthrough in the long-running trade spat — had toned down his enthusiasm by Wednesday, saying the specifics were still being worked out.

“It hasn’t been papered yet but it is being papered,” he told reporters at the White House.

Trump has also insisted that Beijing already bought $40-50 billion worth of American agriculture products last week.

But China is yet to confirm these details.

“Chinese companies are… continuing to increase their purchases of agricultural products from the United States according to the needs of the domestic market,” Gao said.

While the deal meant tariff increases planned for this week would not go forward, it did not roll back any of the stinging import duties already imposed up to now on hundreds of billions of dollars in trade between the economic powers, nor did it address another round of import taxes planned for December.

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