25 August 2019
The upcoming meeting is lower-level compared with four previous rounds of talks. Photo: Reuters
The upcoming meeting is lower-level compared with four previous rounds of talks. Photo: Reuters

China, US to hold next round of trade talks in late August

China said it will hold a fresh round of trade talks with the United States in Washington later this month, offering a glimmer of hope for progress in resolving a conflict that has set world markets on edge, Reuters reports.

A Chinese delegation led by Vice Minister of Commerce Wang Shouwen will meet with US representatives led by Undersecretary of Treasury for International Affairs David Malpass, the Ministry of Commerce said in a statement on its website.

The world’s two largest economies have implemented several rounds of tit-for-tat tariffs on each other’s goods since the start of the year and have threatened further tariffs on exports worth hundreds of billions of dollars.

The announcement of the forthcoming meeting comes after a lull in talks between the two sides, but it is unclear whether it will take place before or after Aug. 23, when Washington is due to activate additional tariffs on US$16 billion of Chinese goods. Beijing has said it will retaliate in kind.

The last official round of talks was in early June when US Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross met Chinese Vice Premier Liu He in Beijing.

There was no immediate response from the US Treasury to the announcement from Beijing.

The upcoming meeting is lower-level compared with four previous rounds of talks that involved Liu, Ross and US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.

Having made little progress in the previous meetings, the White House said on Aug. 3 that the US is open to further talks with China on how to resolve the festering trade dispute.

China has repeatedly pointed out that US companies and consumers will be hard hit by the trade war, a theme the ruling Communist Party’s official People’s Daily returned to on Thursday.

US President Donald Trump’s “America First” slogan had caused only economic trouble for the country, the paper said, pointing to examples like losses incurred by US soybean farmers amid the trade war.

“What’s fantastical is that US trade policy-makers seem to be totally deaf. The voices of producers, the international community and expert groups have been pouring forth, but they’re turning a deaf ear to them,” it said in a commentary.

The news of the upcoming talks helped Chinese stocks pare losses, with the Shanghai Composite Index and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index both down 0.4 percent, having fallen as much as 1.9 percent and 1.7 percent, respectively, in early trading on Thursday. US futures also gained, though they later trimmed some of those gains.

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