BEIJING – China and the United States, who have traditionally faced off over the former’s trade surplus, signed on Thursday agreements worth $253.5 billion that could help even out the trade balance if put into practice.
US President Donald Trump’s first visit to China was dominated by topics such as the economy and the North Korean crisis on the agenda for discussion with his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping.
“Right now, unfortunately, it (trade) is a very one-sided and unfair one, but I don’t blame China,” Trump said.
“Afterwards, who can blame a country for being able to take advantage of another country for the benefit of its citizens? I give China great credit,” Trump added, marking a softening of tone with respect to Beijing.
The US president rued that the trade balance between the two countries has for many years been unfair, but blamed earlier administrations in Washington for not having known how to control the excess deficit.
On Wednesday, the Chinese authorities published data on foreign trade for the first 10 months of the year, which showed China recorded a staggering $233 billion trade surplus with the US.
Although the agreements announced on Thursday could check this imbalance, a large number of them are in fact memorandums of understanding and may not materialize in practice.
However, topics such as greater market access for the US in China, and restrictions on foreign firms in China – issues of significant concern for Washington – were not discussed during the meeting between the two leaders.
Xi, on his part, expressed optimism as he confirmed his commitment towards opening up the Chinese economy and greater cooperation between countries.
He also urged his American counterpart for increased exchanges in areas of technology and trade.
“We will further increase our cooperation in trade especially liquefied natural gas, fuel, as well as beef and agricultural products and we will promote in education film and other services contracts,” Xi said during a meeting of business leaders at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing.
The agreements signed include one between US firm Boeing and China Aviation Supply Holding Company for 300 aircrafts worth $37 billion.
Moreover, agreements were signed for exploration and extraction of gas in Alaska – worth $43 billion – buying automobiles and auto-parts, as well as on chip sales and soybeans.
The agreements were termed by Xi as good examples of the great potential and the nature of mutual benefit in the cooperation between China and the US.