Asian Shares Firm after Kudlow Says Phase One Trade Talks in Final Stages

Later on Thursday, White House economic adviser provided another ray of hope when he said negotiations over the first phase of a trade agreement with China were coming down to the final stages, with the two sides in close contact.
James Hyerczyk
Asian Shares Higher

Asia Pacific shares are trading mostly higher on Friday, as investors try to make sense of the latest developments on U.S.-China trade. Investors are shrugging off Thursday’s weak performances on Wall Street, which could be a sign that something positive from the negotiations may be in the works.

At 05:58 GMT, Japan’s NIKKEI 225 Index is trading 23309.89, up 168.34 or +0.73%. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index is at 26391.12, up 67.43 or +0.25% and South Korea’s KOSPI is trading 2157.84, up 18.61 or +0.87%.

China’s Shanghai Index is trading 2909.72, down 0.15 or -0.00% and Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 settled at 6793.70, up 58.60 or +0.87%.

U.S.-China Trade Relations

This week has been filled with a few headlines regarding trade issues but nothing hard-hitting enough to think a partial-trade deal was imminent. Nonetheless, the U.S. indexes continued to hit record highs, which suggests investors don’t feel the lack of progress toward a deal is important enough to derail the headway made so far.

No Rollback Agreement

The week started with worries that President Donald Trump had not agreed to the rollback in tariffs that a China announced on November7. Last Friday, Trump said, “China would like to get somewhat of a rollback, not a complete rollback, ‘cause they know I won’t do it. I haven’t agreed to anything.”

Threat to Raise Tariffs

Then on November 12, President Trump said the United States will increase tariffs on Chinese goods if the first step of a broader trade agreement isn’t reached.

“If we don’t make a deal, we’re going to substantially raise those tariffs,” he said in a speech to the Economic Club of New York. “They’re going to be raised very substantially. And that’s going to be true for other countries that mistreat us too.”

China is “dying” to make a trade deal with the U.S., Trump said, adding that he’s sign it only if it’s good for American companies and workers. Still, he said, “we’re close – a significant Phase 1 deal could happen soon.”

Negotiations Hit a Snag

On November 13, CNBC said, “The high-stakes trade negotiations between the U.S. and China are running into trouble as the two countries attempt to finalize a limited trade agreement.”

The Wall Street Journal first reported the roadblock in the trade talks, adding China is hesitant to commit to a specific amount of agricultural products in the text of a potential deal.

Holding Deep Discussions

On November 14, Chinese Ministry of Commerce spokesman Gao Feng said that both countries are holding deep discussions about a “phase one” deal, but noted that the rolling back of some tariffs is key to reaching an agreement.

“The trade war was begun with adding tariffs, and should be ended by canceling these additional tariffs. This is an important condition for both sides to reach an agreement,” Fend said Thursday at a weekly press conference.

Talks in Final Stages

Later on Thursday, White House economic adviser provided another ray of hope when he said negotiations over the first phase of a trade agreement with China were coming down to the final stages, with the two sides in close contact.

Speaking after an event at the Council on Foreign Relations late Thursday in Washington, Kudlow told reporters that a deal was close though “not done yet.”

“We are coming down to the short strokes,” Kudlow said. “We are in communication with them every day right now.”

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