US, China preparing for January talks

The upcoming talks are a sign that some progress is being made to resolve the trade war, which has seen both sides levy tariffs on hundreds of billions of dollars' worth of each other's goods.
The upcoming talks are a sign that some progress is being made to resolve the trade war, which has seen both sides levy tariffs on hundreds of billions of dollars' worth of each other's goods.PHOTO: AFP

Preparations are under way for trade talks between China and the United States in Beijing next month - the first face-to-face talks between officials of both countries since Chinese President Xi Jinping and US President Donald Trump met in Argentina earlier this month.

China's Commerce Ministry spokesman Gao Feng told reporters at a regular press briefing yesterday that both sides have been in intensive contact via telephone and specific arrangements are being made.

"Even though it is the Christmas holiday period in the US, the Chinese and US trade teams have been in close communication, and consultations are progressing in an orderly manner as scheduled," he said.

But Mr Gao did not confirm earlier media reports that a US trade delegation would also visit Beijing for talks in the week of June 7.

Citing sources familiar with the matter, Bloomberg reported this on Wednesday, noting that Deputy US Trade Representative Jeffrey Gerrish will be leading the American delegation.

"In addition to continuing intensive telephone consultations, the two sides have indeed made specific arrangements for face-to-face consultations in January ," said Mr Gao yesterday, without elaborating.

The upcoming talks are a sign that some progress is being made to resolve the trade war, which has seen both sides levy tariffs on hundreds of billions of dollars' worth of each other's goods.

Both Mr Xi and Mr Trump declared a truce in the months-long trade war between their two countries when they met on Dec 1, giving their negotiators time to hammer out an agreement.

The US had said then that it would delay a planned Jan 1 tariff increase until March.

Meanwhile, China has resumed buying US soya beans, and will lower tariffs on US-made cars for three months from Jan 1.

Danson Cheong

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 28, 2018, with the headline 'US, China preparing for January talks'. Print Edition | Subscribe