China promises prompt action on US trade pact

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Confusing and conflicting statements by Trump and US officials, coupled with lack of Chinese confirmation, led to stock markets tumbling on Tuesday amid doubts about the chances for a final settlement of a fight over technology that threatens to chill global economic growth.

Shanghai - China expressed confidence on Wednesday that it can reach a trade deal with the United States, a sentiment echoed by U.S. President Donald Trump a day after he warned of more tariffs if the two sides could not resolve their differences.

China has said comparatively little about the Trump-Xi agreement after senior Chinese officials briefed the media following the meeting, and there have been some differences between USA and Chinese accounts of what the deal entails.

The ministry vowed to start implementing "specific matters" that were agreed - saying "the sooner the better" - but did not provide any details. That suggested President Xi Jinping's government sees the trade negotiations as too important to disrupt.

The two sides have a "clear timetable and road map" for talks, the ministry statement said, but gave no details. It was unclear if Gao was referring to the tariffs in his remarks to reporters.

"I am not sure, you know, that the objective is a trade agreement".

Adding to the confusion, Trump indicated on Tuesday that the trade talks could go beyond the March 1 deadline.

'The negotiations with China have already started. "Unless extended, they will end 90 days from the date of our wonderful and very warm dinner with President Xi in Argentina", Trump tweeted.

The delay "isn't a sign of rejection, but of cautiousness", said Ma.

MARKETS DOWN Global financial markets sank to one-week lows on Wednesday amid the renewed trade concerns, extending Tuesday's slide.

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A woman walks past an electronic board showing Hong Kong share index outside a local bank in Hong Kong on Wednesday.

As part of the truce, Trump agreed to hold off on plans to raise the tariffs on $200 billion in Chinese imports to 25 percent beginning January 1, leaving them at the current 10 percent rate.

"The ultimate goal for the 90 days of talks is to remove all the increased tariffs", Gao said.

US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said markets were in a "wait-and-see" mode.

Beijing pledged to import more United States products to narrow its massive trade surplus with the U.S. following the Argentina talks, but it has given few details about what was agreed.

China, in turn, agreed to purchase a "substantial amount" of United States agricultural, energy and industrial products, among others, to reduce the trade imbalance between the two countries, according to the White House. He noted all the major American players attended the Argentina meeting, giving a sign of "buy in" on a USA position.

US liquefied natural gas was also absent from China's shopping list in October, following Beijing's move in September to impose a retaliatory 10 percent tariff on USA supplies.

The Chinese silence has prompted questions about what Trump said was a promise by Beijing to buy more American goods and negotiate over US complaints that it steals American technology. China's state planner announced Tuesday stiffer punishments for serious violators of IP rights, a move that may help ease Washington's discontent.

The two sides will also discuss intellectual property protection, technology cooperation, market access and balanced trade, and "work hard to reach a consensus", Gao said.