Shanghai: Chinese and US negotiators held their first face-to-face talks Wednesday since agreeing to a trade war truce last month, but the short meeting in Shanghai was overshadowed by a Twitter tirade from President Donald Trump. Washington and Beijing have so far hit each other with punitive tariffs covering more than USD 360 billion in two-way trade in a row centred on demands for China to curb the alleged theft of American technology and provide a level playing field to US companies. Also Read – Saudi Crown Prince ‘snubbed’ Pak PM, recalled jet from US US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin shook hands and exchanged pleasantries with Vice Premier Liu He Wednesday morning. The group then went behind closed doors for around four hours in the first face-to-face negotiations since Trump agreed to a truce with his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping in June following a breakdown a month earlier. The talks were relatively brief and the group emerged later, a little earlier than expected, for a group photo before the US trade officials left for the airport without speaking to reporters. Also Read – Record number of 35 candidates in fray for SL Presidential polls Lighthizer and Mnuchin arrived in Shanghai on Tuesday and joined Chinese officials for dinner and informal discussions – just as Trump took to Twitter to lambast what he said was a lack of willingness by Beijing to broker a fair deal. “My team is negotiating with them now, but they always change the deal in the end to their benefit,” Trump wrote Tuesday. This time the US leader said Beijing was supposed to start buying US agricultural products but they have shown “no signs that they are doing so”. “That is the problem with China, they just don’t come through,” he added. Trump had previously accused China of reneging on its commitments when previous talks broke down in May. Analysts said his remarks would do little to ease the already-tense relationship between Washington and Beijing. “Whatever shred of optimism markets had about the ongoing trade negotiations were dealt as a severe blow when President Trump flew off the handle again,” said Stephen Innes, managing partner at VM Markets Singapore. “(The tweets show) Trump seems eager to get a deal, that shows his weakness,” said Shanghai-based professor Shen Dingli. A commentary in the Communist Party mouthpiece People’s Daily on Wednesday, while not mentioning Trump by name, complained that as the talks started, “the drums of some Americans struck again on the side, disturbing the main melody”. Days before the Shanghai meeting, Trump threatened to pull recognition of China’s developing nation status at the World Trade Organization, which Beijing called “arrogance”. Expectations were already low before the talks, although and analysts predicted that little of substance would be announced. “The short duration of the current meeting to me suggests that this is exploratory,” said J Michael Cole, a Taipei-based senior fellow with the Global Taiwan Institute in Washington. “It signals that no major breakthroughs are expected and that the expectations of achievements are modest at best.” Officials on both sides were keeping a low profile throughout their Shanghai trip. US trade negotiators entered and left their hotel on Shanghai’s waterfront through side doors without going through public areas, and did not stop to speak to the press or show their faces. Trump said last week he believed Beijing was hoping to delay a deal until after the US presidential election in November 2020, saying China wanted to see if a Democratic opponent wins the vote so it could “continue to rip off the USA”. “He (Trump) can’t afford politically to step up and say ‘I made a great deal with China’ when it’s not a great deal,” said Derek M Scissors, resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute. “So the most likely outcome is we get nothing until the election.” But the trade war is taking its toll on both sides. In a report published Wednesday in official news agency Xinhua, The Political Bureau of China’s Central Committee warned of “new risks and increasing downward pressure” on the Chinese economy.
OTTAWA – Doubt is percolating about Canada’s ability to deliver on its two biggest environment commitments at this week’s G7, with no agreement yet on a plastics waste charter and Canada’s recent pipeline purchase casting a pall over its commitment to climate change.Environment Minister Catherine McKenna said Tuesday it is still uncertain whether Canada will get its proposed zero plastics waste plan signed at this week’s G7 leaders summit.Speaking at the Canada 2020 conference Tuesday in Ottawa, McKenna said most of the negotiating has already taken place, but she was unable to say if all the G7 leaders will sign the charter when their two-day meeting in Quebec gets underway Friday.“Who knows at the table what happens,” she said. “I’m optimistic.”In January, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said he would make plastics and a zero-waste plastics charter a key deliverable as part of Canada’s G7 presidency. The wording of such a charter has been in the works for months — one goal is to set a target date for eliminating plastics from landfills, as well as commitments from each country on how to get there.If the G7 can make such a commitment, the hope is then to get the G20 to follow suit when that summit happens in Argentina in the fall.Earlier this week, Canada’s chemical industry and plastics makers jointly set 2030 as the goal for eliminating plastic waste by recycling or incinerating for energy, while environment groups would like to see plastics stop going into the garbage or the incinerator by 2025.While the U.K., France and Italy all appear to be on board, the positions of Germany, Japan and the United States are less clear.McKenna said the U.S. has been “pretty positive” on the issue of a plastics charter. But she also said that if President Donald Trump doesn’t get on board, there are many other Americans who will. She said there’s action on the file already from state governments and business leaders, including major multinationals like Pepsi, Coca-Cola and McDonald’s that are responsible for much of the world’s single-use plastic food and beverage waste.Trump has not been clear on where he stands on marine debris. But last August, he overturned a six-year regulation allowing national parks to ban the sale of single-use plastic water bottles.The Canadian plastics charter will also aim to help developing countries better manage their waste, considering that about 90 per cent of the plastic that ends up in the ocean is carried out to sea by 10 rivers — eight of them in Asia and two in Africa.Trudeau is also facing increased pressure to deliver a solid climate change commitment, particularly after committing to spend $4.5 billion buying the Trans Mountain pipeline. Luca Bergamaschi, the lead Italian negotiator on climate change from last year’s gathering, said European leaders see Trans Mountain as evidence Europe will have to carry the ball on climate.The European contingent has lost patience with Trump’s stance on tariffs and climate change, and will be taking a hard-line approach on environmental issues, Bergamaschi added.“The Europeans are less willing to compromise in order to appease the U.S. and maintain unity at all costs,” he said.It is setting up to be another six-against-one finish, much like last year’s G7. However, Bergamaschi noted, no other country has joined Trump’s high-profile abandonment of the Paris accord — a sign that the rest of the world remains committed and the agreement will survive without the White House.Bergamaschi and Catherine Abreu, the executive director of Climate Action Network Canada, say international climate change organizations also want the G7 to set the stage for countries around the world to agree to raise emissions targets they say remain far too low.Trans Mountain puts all the more pressure on Trudeau to deliver a strong climate message, Abreu said.Indeed, Trump’s recently imposed steel and aluminum tariffs might actually make it easier for Trudeau to side with Europe, rather than pushing for a watered-down compromise, she added.