Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) yesterday said that US-China trade talks would continue next week in Washington, as the two sides race to reach a deal that would avert a tariff increase on Chinese goods by March 1.
Negotiators would meet again in Washington after wrapping up talks in Beijing yesterday, Xi was quoted as saying by China Central Television.
New progress was made on important issues, he added.
US Secretary of the Treasury Steven Mnuchin sounded a positive note, saying that he and US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer held “productive meetings” with Chinese Vice Premier Liu He (劉鶴).
They both also met Xi later in the day.
The two sides remained far apart this week on structural reforms to China’s economy that the US has requested, according to three US and Chinese officials who asked not to be identified because the talks were private.
They said that it would likely take a meeting between Xi and US President Donald Trump to seal a deal.
The US and China were yesterday scrambling to produce a memorandum of understanding that would pave the way for a meeting between the two presidents, the Financial Times reported earlier, citing people briefed on the negotiations.
The US has also not relented on demands for China to dial back government subsidies for state-owned enterprises and improve corporate governance, one of the people said, an extremely sensitive issue that is seen as a nonstarter for Chinese leaders.
The uncertainty has weighed on investors, with Asian stocks retreating from the highest levels since October last year following a dip in US equities.
Both sides have an incentive to strike a deal: Trump has repeatedly linked market gains to his administration’s policies, while Bloomberg Economics has estimated that China would avoid a 0.3 percent drag on this year’s GDP if the trade truce holds.
Asked on Thursday if the Trump administration was considering extending the deadline for tariff increases, White House National Economic Council Director Larry Kudlow said that no decision had been made.
Negotiators in Beijing “are soldiering on” and the “vibe” is good, Kudlow said on Fox News, adding that he had been briefed by US officials earlier that day.
Kudlow later told reporters that he was “cautiously optimistic” on the outcome of the talks.
A meeting between Trump and Xi has not been scheduled and it is unlikely that the pair could meet before the March 1 deadline.
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