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International Relations

US to ease sanctions on China's ZTE, says report

Commerce Secretary Ross expected in Beijing for further trade negotiations

  © Reuters

WASHINGTON -- The U.S. has reached a broad agreement with Beijing to ease restrictions on leading Chinese telecommunications equipment maker ZTE, The Wall Street Journal reported Monday.

Washington is considering the removal of a ban on the sale of components and software by American companies to ZTE, in return for the Chinese company paying certain financial penalties, the paper said in its online edition. Details of the agreement have yet to be finalized.

Commerce Secretary of Wilbur Ross, who is tasked with resolving the ZTE issue, is expected to travel to Beijing next week, the White House said.

China agreed to increase purchases of agricultural products and energy from the U.S. at a bilateral trade meeting on Thursday and Friday. A joint communique issued after the negotiations said that Washington would send a delegation to China to work out details of the accord. Ross' discussions with Chinese officials will focus on the framework for related contracts and volumes of purchases.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told reporters on Monday that Beijing had pledged to boost farm product imports by between 35% and 40%.

The two countries also agreed to refrain from imposing additional tariffs, Mnuchin said, suggesting that punitive measures may be shelved entirely, though this was not mentioned in the communique.

But differences remain over China's promotion of its technology industry.

U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, who participated in last week's bilateral talks, issued a statement saying that tariffs remain a strong tool to protect U.S. technology, according to reports.

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