Xi promises gradual opening of Chinese markets to investment

China's President Xi Jinping says that Chinese markets will gradually open to foreign investment.

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However, he didn't offer new initiatives to ease trade tension with Washington and Europe.

Xi spoke Tuesday at the opening of the second China International Import Expo.

The fair is meant to mollify Beijing's trading partners by showcasing its vast and growing import market.

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In a speech, Xi Xi affirmed promises to reduce restrictions on foreign investment and an offer, first made in June, to accelerate work on a China-Europe investment treaty.

French President Emmanuel Macron is attending the trade fair In Shanghai and called on China to "consolidate" the opening up of the Chinese market, according to Reuters.

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"Much has been done in recent years with two revisions of the negative lists for foreign investment ... important tariff reductions have been granted. We call for their consolidation and deepening," Macron said.

Beijing has cut tariffs and eased other import restrictions but none of the steps directly addresses the complaints by the U.S., Europe and others about restrictions on foreign companies.

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American and Chinese announced what Trump called a "first phase" agreement on Oct. 12 after talks in Washington. Envoys are negotiating the details. The two sides have reported no progress on their biggest disputes and economists say a final settlement is unlikely this year.

In a conference call Tuesday, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said he was "reasonably optimistic" that the Phase 1 talks would be finished. More difficult issues would wait for later rounds, he said.

"We're hoping Phase 1 will be a precursor of later agreements," Ross said.

Trump and Xi were due to meet at this month's gathering of Asia-Pacific leaders in Chile but the event was canceled due to protests there. That dented hopes a meeting might produce progress, but the Chinese government says the two leaders "maintain contact."

Ross said the two sides were looking for an alternative venue for a meeting.

The Associated Press contributed to this article.