Top US officials to head to China for new trade talks

March 20, 2019 08:27
Treasury Secretary  Steven Mnuchin is expected to be among the senior US officials who will travel to Beijing next week for new round of trade talks. Photo: Reuters

US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin plan to travel to China next week for another round of trade talks with Chinese Vice Premier Liu He, Reuters reports, citing an unidentified Trump administration official.

The resumption in face-to-face talks, the first since US President Donald Trump delayed a March 1 deadline to raise tariffs on US$200 billion worth of Chinese imports, marks an acceleration of the negotiations aimed at ending the trade war between the two sides, the report noted.

“Talks with China are going very well,” Trump said on Tuesday at the end of a White House news conference with visiting Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro.

Since Trump’s delay of the March 1 tariff hike, Washington and Beijing have only negotiated by telephone and video link.

The US and China have slapped import duties on hundreds of billions of dollars of each other’s products in their dispute, raising costs, roiling financial markets, shrinking American farm exports and disrupting manufacturing supply chains.

Washington has demanded that Beijing implement stronger protections for intellectual property rights and end policies that it says coerce US companies to transfer technology to Chinese firms in exchange for access to the Chinese market.

The United States also is demanding that China rein in hefty industrial subsidies that it blames for the buildup of excess production capacity in China.

Since late February, the two sides have been working to refine language on reform pledges that China intends to take, along with an enforcement mechanism aimed at ensuring Beijing will follow through on such changes.

But Chinese officials have sought an immediate end to the tariffs that Trump has imposed on about US$250 billion worth of Chinese imports. Trump administration officials have not specified any plans for rolling back such duties.

The deal under negotiation also is widely expected to include increased Chinese purchases of American goods, including farm and energy commodities, to help reduce the US goods trade deficit with China, which hit a record US$419 billion last year.

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