The U.S. Trade Representative’s (USTR) office and China’s Commerce Ministry have announced that the two countries are close to finalizing some parts of a trade agreement. Talks between the two sides continue, and the USTR has provided no information on where progress has been made.

Reports on negotiations note that headway has been made on specific issues, the two sides are close to finalizing certain sections of the agreement and discussions will continue at the executive level with the principals speaking again in the near future. The Chinese Ministry of Commerce have confirmed online that “technical consultations” on certain parts of the agreement are essentially complete.

Agriculture is said to factor significantly into the discussion, with China’s Ministry of Commerce saying the two sides agree that the U.S. will import Chinese cooked poultry and catfish products and China will lift a ban on U.S. poultry. It has also been reported that China wants the U.S. to cancel some existing tariffs on Chinese imports, while it will, in return, purchase more U.S. commodities. A point of negotiation has been that the U.S. wants China to commit to making these purchases at certain times and prices, while buyers in China push to be able to make their decisions based on market conditions.

It is reported that the “Phase One” agreement under discussion is not expected to cover allegations of Chinese hacking into U.S. companies and government agencies, state subsidies, the dumping of products on global markets or the fentanyl market. On intellectual property, the agreement is said to focus on copyright and trademark issues and the curbing of technology transfers.

The USTR has also announced an exclusion process for List 4a, beginning October 31 and closing January 31, 2020, and it has released a new list of exclusions granted regarding List 3. There were 83 exclusions granted in this notice, which will apply through August 7, 2020.