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China’s Yellen, Liu agree to improve communication after ‘frank exchange’ – US Treasury

ZURICH, Jan 18 (Reuters) – U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen agreed with Chinese Vice Premier Liu He to improve communication on macroeconomic and financial issues in a “frank, substantive and constructive” meeting. in Zurich on Wednesday, the Treasury said.

In a statement, the Treasury said the two sides agreed to strengthen cooperation on climate finance on a bilateral and multilateral basis, such as within the United Nations, the Group of 20 economies and APEC.

“While we have points of disagreement, and we will convey them directly, we must not allow misunderstandings, especially those resulting from a lack of communication, to unnecessarily worsen our bilateral economic and financial relations,” Yellen told the start of the meeting.

Liu said the two countries needed “serious communication” and coordination on issues such as climate change and the economy, and he was ready for an in-depth exchange.

“We believe that we should always keep the big picture in mind, try to manage our differences appropriately and seek common ground,” Liu said, speaking through an interpreter. . “In this way, we hope we can work together to maintain the overall stability of China-US relations.”

US President Joe Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping pledged to increase communication when they met in Indonesia in November.

“Both sides agreed that it was important for the functioning of the global economy to further improve communication on macroeconomic and financial issues,” Treasury said after Yellen and Liu’s meeting.

“Secretary Yellen also raised issues of concern in a frank exchange of views,” he added. “She looks forward to visiting China and hosting her counterparts in the United States in the near future.”

A senior Treasury official said that during the meeting, which lasted nearly three hours, Yellen and Liu agreed that the two countries could take steps to avoid recessions in their own economies, and the two delegations had a productive discussion on issues of sovereign debt, food security and energy.

On the economic outlook, Chinese officials were aware of the financial risks posed by the real estate sector but were optimistic about a recovery closer to normal growth, the official said of the meeting, the first in person since Yellen became secretary.

The Chinese side expressed concern about US economic, trade and technology policies toward China and expressed hope that the US will pay attention to how these policies affect the two countries, said the Chinese Ministry of Commerce in a statement.

“China welcomes Yellen to visit China at an appropriate time this year. The two countries have agreed that their economic and trade teams will continue to maintain communications and exchanges at all levels,” he said. .

In October, Washington imposed export controls on China to slow Beijing’s technological and military advances, including measures to restrict China’s access to U.S. chipmaking tools and cut it off from some chips made all over the world with American equipment.

EXPANDING COOPERATION

Liu, a confidant of Xi, on Tuesday urged world leaders gathered in Davos for the World Economic Forum to abandon what he called a “cold war mentality” and expand international cooperation on issues such as climate change. .

Yellen and other top US officials say the US economy should be able to avoid a recession in 2023, but acknowledge slower growth is likely.

China’s economic growth is expected to rebound from mid-2023 after the easing of COVID-19 restrictions after dropping to one of its worst levels in nearly half a century.

The IMF has warned against decoupling the world economy into two competing blocs, saying it could reduce global economic output by up to 7%, and even more in vulnerable countries.

Yellen’s meeting with Liu came ahead of a three-country visit to Africa, where she will work to expand U.S. trade and commerce relations with the continent, which China has long dominated.

She is also expected to repeat her criticism of Beijing – now the world’s largest creditor – for not acting faster on debt relief, as well as its use of forced labor in China’s Xinjiang region and its practices. non-market economy.

Yellen has met Liu nearly three times since taking office and met in Bali, Indonesia, with China’s central bank governor Yi Gang. Liu will step down this year as part of an overhaul of China’s economic leadership revealed in September.

In December, Yellen told reporters she was also open to visiting China and looked forward to “more intense interactions” with Chinese officials.

For daily updates from Davos to your inbox, sign up for the Reuters Daily Briefing here

Reporting by Andrea Shalal; Editing by Josie Kao, Nick Macfie, Jan Harvey and Jonathan Oatis

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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