BEIJING – Chinese and American firms inked a slew of energy, industrial and financial pacts worth more than US$250 billion (S$341 billion) on Thursday (Nov 9), in what could be one of the biggest such signings in recent years.
Chinese President Xi Jinping and his US counterpart Donald Trump witnessed the signing ceremony at the Great Hall of the People after their bilateral meeting.
Chinese state media reported that Boeing signed US$37 billion in commercial deals as part of the US trade mission travelling with Mr Trump to Beijing.
General Electric signed three deals with Chinese partners, totalling US$3.5 billion, Reuters news agency reported. These included an engine and repair deal for GEnx-1B engines from Juneyao Airlines worth US$1.4 billion at list prices, and another US$1.1 billion order for 80 Leap-1B engines for 40 Boeing 737 MAX Aircraft from the leasing arm of state bank Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC), said the report.
Other China-US agreements included US$4 billion in chip industry deals, China Central Television (CCTV) reported.
In addition, the US soybean industry signed two letters of intent with Chinese importers. The latter will buy another 12 million tonnes of soybeans from the US.
In total, 15 documents were signed ranging from shale gas, liquefied natural gas, industrial cooperation, to vehicles and aircraft engines.
Mr Trump described them as “tremendous, incredible job-producing agreements”, which will give both sides a “very very good start” in solving the problem of the “massive trade distortions” between the US and China.
The US trade deficit with China stood at US$347 billion at the end of 2016. Mr Trump had told White House officials last week: “We have trade deficits with China that are through the roof. They’re so big and so bad it’s embarrassing saying what the number is… it’s horrible.”
At the signing ceremony on Thursday, Mr Trump said he would not blame China. “After all, who can blame a country for being able to take advantage of another country for the sake of its citizens?”
He blamed the past US administrations “for allowing this out-of-control trade deficit to take place and to grow” and said “we will make it fair to both sides”.
At the joint press conference held after the signing, Mr Xi said the world’s top two economies need to “further expand trade and investment cooperation, strengthen macroeconomic policy coordination and pursue healthy stable and dynamically balanced economic and trade relations.”
He pledged to have “continued in-depth discussions” on market openness, further lifting export restrictions, improving the investment environment and other issues.
“According to China’s timetable and roadmap of opening up, China had announced a number of areas to promote market access,” he said.
Chinese vice foreign minister Zheng Zeguang elaborated on this in statement on the Ministry website on Thursday. “China will substantially relax its market access to the financial industry, including the banking industry, the securities fund industry and the insurance industry, and gradually lower the import tariffs on cars,” Mr Zheng was quoted saying.
Mr Trump told reporters that he had discussed the issue of China’s market restrictions and technology transfer requirements, which prevented American companies from being able to fairly compete within China.
The United States is committed to protecting the intellectual property of its companies and providing a level playing field for them, he added.
More than two dozen head honchos of American energy, industrial and financial giants have joined Mr Trump in his three-day visit to Beijing, the third leg of his five-nation Asia tour.