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MNI EXCLUSIVE: China-US May Sign Trade Pact Despite APEC Snag

     BEIJING (MNI) - The cancellation of the APEC summit next month in Chile may
not derail the apparent progress in trade talks between China and the U.S., as
the two countries could still sign an initial agreement elsewhere, Chinese
advisors close to the government told MNI.
     "Both sides will continue to work with each other, and will consider
another location for signing the agreement," said Wei Jianguo, a former vice
minister of Commerce. The cancellation won't affect the deal signing, he said in
an interview on Thursday.
     U.S. President Donald Trump said he hoped to sign a "phase one" deal with
Chinese leader Xi Jinping during the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation leader
summit in Chile on Nov 16 to 17. Chilean officials cancelled the summit on
Wednesday because of mass protests. 
     "A key signal is whether the U.S. will send someone to talk about it in the
near future," said another former commerce official, declining to be identified
in order to speak candidly. "As both sides have recently shown some sincerity,
we should take the opportunity to sign first, or the agreement may fall further
away," the former official said. 
     Lead negotiators from both sides will speak on phone again this Friday,
China's commerce ministry said in a statement on Thursday, noting "talks are
progressing smoothly, as both sides have maintained close communication."
     "The cancellation of the summit may have some impact in the short term, but
in the long run, it should not affect the overall situation," said Wang Huiyao,
President of the Center for China and Globalization (CCG), a state-sponsored
think tank.
     Some advisors suggested in speaking to MNI that the agreement may be signed
instead by Vice Premier Liu He and his U.S. counterparts, rather than the two
     However, Mei Guanqun, deputy researcher at the China Center for
International Economic Exchange, said President Trump is unlikely to give up the
chance of signing a deal face-to-face with China to give himself an electoral
     It isn't difficult to rearrange the deal signing, and the two leaders need
to meet and confirm what's for the next phase of the negotiation, Mei said. The
signing may take place in a third-party country to ensure equal positions for
both sides, according to Mei.
--MNI Beijing Bureau; +86 (10) 8532 5998; email:
--MNI Beijing Bureau; +86 (10) 8532-5998; email:
[TOPICS: M$A$$$,M$Q$$$,MC$$$$,MI$$$$,MT$$$$,MX$$$$,MGQ$$$]

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