US-China to hold trade talks in Washington next week

US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin (2nd L) talks with Chinese President Xi Jinping as US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer (L) and Chinese Vice Premier Liu He (R) look on before their meeting at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on February 15, 2019

Beijing: The trade talks between China and the US will continue in Washington next week after both sides made "progress" but not enough to seal a final deal, ahead of a planned American tariff hike on USD 200 billion of Chinese imports from March 2.

Top officials from the world's two biggest economies wrapped up the two-days of talks here on Friday in a bid to at least create sufficient goodwill to stave off an escalation of their tariff war.

Both sides have agreed to continue talks in Washington next week after two days of negotiations in Beijing produced "progress" but not enough to seal a deal to end the trade war, the Hong Kong-based South China Morning Post quoted officials as saying.

"Talks will continue next week among the same group of people, but at a different place," said a source, who declined to be identified.

"The last two days in Beijing made progress but not enough to seal a final deal," the source said, adding that the Chinese delegation may leave for Washington on Thursday.

Commenting on the talks, the White House said "detailed and intensive discussions led to progress between the two parties." "Much work remains, however. Both sides will continue working on all outstanding issues in advance of the March 1, 2019, deadline for an increase in the 10 per cent tariff on certain imported Chinese goods," the White House said in a statement, confirming dialogue would continue in Washington next week.

Chinese Vice-Premier Liu He met US trade representative Robert Lighthizer and US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin here on Thursday and Friday.

Mnuchin tweeted that he and Lighthizer had held "productive meetings with China's Vice-Premier Liu He".

Later, both the delegations called on Chinese President Xi Jinping.

Xi's meeting with the US delegation was stated as reciprocal move as Trump had met the Chinese delegation when it visited Washington in the first week of this month.

This round of talks was held in Beijing in a more relaxed environment as the US President on Thursday hinted that he might "slide for a little while" the March 1 deadline to increase tariffs on USD 200 billion imports from China in order to reach a deal.

 

Trump is demanding China to reduce the USD 375 billion trade deficit and protection of intellectual property rights (IPR) and more access to American goods to Chinese markets.

He has already increased the tariffs on over USD 250 billion Chinese exports to US and threatened to extend tariffs on USD 200 billion Chinese imports to 25 per cent from current 10 per cent.

As the talks began on Thursday, the new official data said China's export growth to the US slowed in January compared with December, while the imports slide widened, indicating a bleak trade picture between the two biggest economies.

China's imports from the US edged down by 38.6 per cent year-on-year to 63.7 billion yuan (USD 9.4 billion) in January, compared with a 2.3 per cent yearly decline in December, the state-run Global Times reported.

In terms of exports, China exported USD 279.4 billion-yuan worth of goods to the US in January, up by 1.9 per cent year-on-year, but slowing from the 8.6 per cent growth seen in the previous month, according to data revealed by the General Administration of Customs on Thursday.

China's January trade surplus with the US widened by 31.2 per cent to hit 188.4 billion yuan, according to the data.

The sliding exports growth and widening imports decline not only show that the uncertainties of the China-US trade situation is forcing the market to take risk aversion measures, but also reflects that China's dependence on US trade is sliding, Bai Ming, deputy director of the MOFCOM's International Market Research Institute, told the Global Times.

Amid the ongoing trade war, China's economy sank to a 28-year low in 2018 slowing down to 6.6 per cent year on year. It was the lowest growth since 1990.

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