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September 22, 2017

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China agrees to open market to US beef

BEIJING -- Beijing and Washington announced Friday an agreement giving U.S. beef, natural gas and certain financial services access to China's massive market in a deal highlighting the warm ties nurtured by their presidents.

The deal was unveiled a month after Chinese President Xi Jinping and Donald Trump launched a 100-day action plan on economic cooperation during their meeting at the U.S. leader's Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida.

Trump's Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin hailed the agreement with China as he arrived for a meeting of G-7 finance ministers in Bari, Italy.

"We are excited about U.S. trade policies and I think you probably saw we made an announcement of a 100 day economic plan with the Chinese so I think we're very happy with how were proceeding with the Chinese," Mnuchin said.

Relations between the two governments have been warmer than expected after Trump lashed out at Beijing throughout the U.S. presidential campaign.

"This was pretty much a herculean accomplishment to get this done," U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross told reporters at the White House, according to Bloomberg News.

"This is more than has been done in the whole history of U.S.-China relations on trade," Ross said.

The U.S. commerce chief said the deal will help reduce the U.S. trade deficit with China, which reached nearly US$350 billion last year.

In Beijing, foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said the two countries "enjoy very close economic cooperation."

"The nature of this relationship is mutually beneficial. The two sides decided to press ahead with this economic plan and the fact that much progress has been made in a short amount of time shows ... we can establish more cooperation for the joint benefit of the people," he said.

During last year's election, Trump had threatened to impose trade tariffs and label Beijing a currency manipulator, neither of which he has done.

But his tone changed after he took office and met with Xi in April, calling the Chinese leader a "good man" who was trying to help Trump rein in North Korea.

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