Top Chinese and US trade negotiators have agreed to talks on a preliminary deal for resolving the tariff dispute between the world’s two-largest economies, the Chinese Ministry of Commerce said yesterday.
In a brief notice, the ministry said that Chinese Vice Premier Liu He (劉鶴) and other senior officials spoke by telephone with US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and US Secretary of the Treasury Steven Mnuchin.
The two sides discussed “solving issues regarding each other’s core concerns, reached consensus on properly resolving related issues and agreed to maintain communication on remaining issues in consultations on the ‘Phase 1’ deal,” Xinhua news agency said.
The announcement was not immediately confirmed by the US side. It came after shares on Wall Street struck new highs on Monday following Beijing’s announcement of new guidelines for the protection of patents and copyrights.
However, the news of the telephone call drew only a tepid reaction in Asia.
Financial markets have been buffeted by conflicting signals for months, with upbeat comments followed by escalations in tensions.
China’s Global Times ran a front-page article citing experts dismissing “negative media reports” about the talks.
It cited a researcher at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences’ Institute of World Economics and Politics, Gao Lingyun (高凌雲), who it said was “close to the trade talks” and said that the two sides might reach a “Phase 1” agreement soon.
Gao said that Beijing and Washington had agreed that tariffs would be rolled back as part of such a deal, but had not agreed yet on which tariffs might be removed.
Pressure is building to reach an agreement, with new US tariffs set to hit Dec. 15 on many Chinese-made items on holiday shopping lists, but US President Donald Trump could push back that deadline, as he did last month, to allow more time for talks.
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