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US, China reach key agreement on beef, poultry and natural gas

The US also agreed to recognise the importance of China's 'Belt and Road' project, a key initiative of Xi to link Asia with Europe.

By: PTI | Washington |
May 12, 2017 2:31:51 pm

The US has reached a major agreement with China allowing American beef and natural gas to be exported to the country and opening its market for Chinese banks and cooked poultry, nearly a month after the first summit between the presidents of the two nations. The deal is a sign of warming ties between the US and China after the Mar-a-Lago summit between President Donald Trump and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping in April. The US also agreed to recognise the importance of China’s ‘Belt and Road’ project, a key initiative of Xi to link Asia with Europe.

Ahead of the ‘One Belt, One Road’ (OBOR) forum in Beijing, India has strongly opposed the proposal. India has reservations over the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, part of the OBOR, as it is proposed to pass through the Pakistan-occupied Kashmir.

Announcing the deal, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said that the US would be sending a delegation to China to attend the OBOR forum in Beijing on May 14 and 15. The decision comes nearly after a month following the US-China summit in Mar-a-Lago, Florida where Trump owns the historic resort in Palm Beach.

Describing the agreement a “herculean accomplishment” Ross claimed that the deal represented the “biggest accomplishment” in US-China trade negotiations “in the whole history of US-China relations.”

Ross said following one more round of technical consultations between the two countries, China is to allow imports of US beef on conditions consistent with international food safety and animal health standards and consistent with the 1999 Agricultural Cooperation Agreement, beginning as soon as possible but not later than July 16, 2017. The two countries also agreed to resolve outstanding issues for the import of China-origin cooked poultry to the US as soon as possible, and after reaching consensus, the US is to publish a proposed rule by July 16, 2017, at the latest, with the US realising China poultry exports as soon as possible, he said.

“Further the China’s National Biosafety Committee (NBC) is to hold a meeting by the end of May 2017 to conduct science based evaluations of all eight pending US biotechnology product applications to assess the safety of the products for their intended use,” he said.

Ross said the US welcomes China, as well as any of its trading partners, to receive imports of Liquefied natural gas (LNG) from the US. “The United States treats China no less favourably than other non-FTA trade partners with regard to LNG export authorisations. Companies from China may proceed at any time to negotiate all types of contractual arrangement with the US LNG exporters, including long-term contracts, subject to the commercial considerations of the parties,” he said.

As of April 25, 2017, the US Department of Energy had authorised 19.2 billion cubic feet per day of natural gas exports to non-FTA countries, Ross said. By July 16, he said, China is to allow wholly foreign-owned financial services firms in China to provide credit rating services, and to begin the licensing process for credit investigation.

By the same time China is also to issue any further necessary guidelines and allow wholly US-owned suppliers of electronic payment services (EPS) to begin the licensing process. “This should lead to full and prompt market access. China is to continue to allow Chinese banks to issue dual brand-dual currency bankcards that allow US EPS suppliers to process foreign currency payment card transactions,” Ross said.

Also, the US Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) intends to extend by July 16 the current no-action relief to Shanghai Clearing House for six months, with further extensions amounting to up to three years, if appropriate and consistent with the conditions set forth in the no-action relief. “The People’s Bank of China and the CFTC are to work towards a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) concerning the cooperation and the exchange of information related to the oversight of cross-border clearing organisations,” he said.

Ross said as per the agreement, China is to issue both bond underwriting and settlement licenses to two qualified US financial institutions by July 16.

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