Trade talks with China resume in US capital

WASHINGTON • Trade talks between the United States and China aimed at ending a damaging tariff war resumed yesterday in Washington, the White House said.

The last set of talks ended last Friday in Beijing with no deal, though US President Donald Trump said discussions were going "extremely well" and suggested that he could extend a March 1 truce deadline for an agreement to be reached.

The next round of negotiations will begin with deputy-level meetings before moving on to principal-level talks tomorrow, said a White House statement issued on Monday.

For the US, the talks will be led by Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and include Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, economic policy adviser Larry Kudlow and trade adviser Peter Navarro.

China's commerce ministry, meanwhile, announced it would be represented by Vice-Premier Liu He, Beijing's top trade negotiator and key aide to President Xi Jinping, who agreed to a trade war truce with Mr Trump at a meeting in Buenos Aires in December.

"We hope China and the US will both work hard together to implement the important consensus reached by our two heads of state in Argentina, get down to work, and walk together in the same direction towards a mutually acceptable and mutually beneficial agreement," foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang told reporters yesterday.

Last Friday, Mr Trump reiterated he might be willing to hold off on raising tariffs to 25 per cent from the current 10 per cent on March 1 on US$200 billion (S$271 billion) in Chinese goods if Washington and Beijing are close to finalising an agreement to deal with US complaints about unfair trade and theft of American technology.

 
 

American officials accuse Beijing of seeking global industrial predominance through an array of unfair trade practices, including the alleged theft of American intellectual property and massive state intervention in commodities markets.

Since the December detente, China has resumed purchases of some US soya beans and dangled massive buying of American commodities to get Washington's trade negotiators closer to a deal.

Beijing and Washington have imposed duties on more than US$360 billion in two-way trade, which are weighing on their manufacturing sectors and have shaken global financial markets.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 20, 2019, with the headline 'Trade talks with China resume in US capital'. Print Edition | Subscribe