US-China trade talks set to resume over the phone

Negotiations with Beijing have been stalled since May, when Mr Trump accused the Chinese side of reneging on core commitments made in earlier rounds of talks.
Negotiations with Beijing have been stalled since May, when Mr Trump accused the Chinese side of reneging on core commitments made in earlier rounds of talks. PHOTO: AFP

WASHINGTON • US and Chinese officials are working to fix a time for top-level trade talks by telephone this week, but a face-to-face encounter has not been scheduled yet, US officials said.

Efforts to pencil in a new round of negotiations come a week after United States President Donald Trump and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping met at a summit in Japan and agreed to restart their stalled negotiations.

But Beijing has since shown no sign of softening its position, with the Commerce Ministry announcing last Thursday that any resolution would require Washington to lift the steep tariffs it imposed on Chinese imports last year.

"I know they're working on coming up with a date for so-called face-to-face meetings. That will happen," top White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow told Fox Business Network on Friday.

"I don't know if that's this coming week. I think the phone calls are this week. The face-to-face may not be for another week, but I don't want to get ahead of that curve," he said.

An official with the US Trade Representative's office confirmed to Agence France-Presse that efforts are on to schedule a call between top negotiators this week.

Meanwhile, the South China Morning Post, a Hong Kong newspaper, also reported on Friday that talks were due to resume in Beijing in the coming week.

US stocks appeared to react positively to word that the trade talks will resume, erasing some of the losses from Friday when a strong job report called into doubt a hoped-for cut in interest rates by the Federal Reserve.

Negotiations with Beijing have been stalled since May, when Mr Trump accused the Chinese side of reneging on core commitments made in earlier rounds of talks.

But Mr Trump, at his June 29 meeting with Mr Xi on the sidelines of the Group of 20 summit in Japan, agreed to hold off imposing additional tariffs on US$300 billion (S$408 billion) of Chinese goods.

 

The US President also agreed to issue visas to Chinese students, and to allow American businesses to resume selling parts to Chinese tech giant Huawei, a company that US officials claim poses a national security threat.

China has promised to buy a "tremendous" amount of US agricultural products, Mr Trump had said after the meeting.

His decision on Huawei triggered a backlash among lawmakers on Capitol Hill, but White House officials said the changes should not create any additional risk to US national security.

The White House also said last week that it had no intention of easing a ban on Huawei's participation in the development of 5G wireless networks in the United States.

The trade war between the world's two largest economies has already seen retaliatory tariffs imposed on US$360 billion worth of goods, rattling markets and weighing on the manufacturing sector while fuelling concerns about a weakening global economy.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on July 07, 2019, with the headline 'US-China trade talks set to resume over the phone'. Print Edition | Subscribe