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Unending trade war talks: US officials flying to China next week

More talks. Mr. Robert Lighthizer and Mr. Liu He have already met several times in the past months trying to iron out a trade deal between the two giant economies. (AFP PHOTO)

BEIJING – Senior US officials will visit Beijing for a new round of trade war talks on March 28-29, AFP has reported.

The Chinese commerce ministry said, in a weekly briefing, on Thursday, March 21, next week’s visit will be followed by a trip to the United States by China’s top negotiator in April, this year.

According to AFP, the back-to-back trips come as Washington and Beijing battle over the final shape of a trade deal, with American officials demanding profound changes to Chinese industrial policy.

Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin are the US officials returning to Beijing next week. After their visit, Chinese Vice-Premier Liu He will head to the United States in April to continue the negotiations, China said.

Dampened hopes

President Donald Trump warned on Wednesday, March 20, that US tariffs on Chinese imports could remain in place for a “substantial period”, dampening hopes that an agreement would see them lifted soon.

Over the last eight months, the United States and China have slapped tariffs on more than $360 billion in two-way goods trade, weighing on the manufacturing sectors in both countries.

Positive signs

Reports show that Beijing has expressed willingness to increase purchases of American commodities such as energy and soya beans.

Mr. Trump initially said he expected to seal any final bargain at a summit with Chinese President Xi Jinping later this month but that deadline has been pushed back as momentum in the talks has slowed.

He told reporters on Wednesday, March 20: “We have to make sure that if we do the deal with China, that China lives by the deal.”

He also said the talks with Beijing were “coming along nicely”.

China and the US continue a war of words, with either country accusing the other of unfair trade practices.

 

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