US-China trade officials aim to talk next week, officials say

WASHINGTON (AFP) – US and Chinese officials are working to schedule a top-level trade talks by telephone next week but a face-to-face encounter has not been scheduled yet, US officials said on Friday (July 5).

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

But Beijing this week showed no sign of softening its position, with the Commerce Ministry announcing on 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 advisor 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 AFP that efforts are underway to schedule a call between top negotiators for next week.

Meanwhile, The South China Morning Post also reported Friday that talks were due to resume in Beijing next week.

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

Trade talks with Beijing have been stalled since May, when Trump accused Chinese negotiators of reneging on core commitments made over prior months of negotiating.

But at their meeting last week on the sidelines of the Group of 20 summit in Japan, Trump agreed to soften the hardline stance on Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei, a company US officials claim poses a national security threat.

The decision 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 this week it had no intention of easing a ban on Huawei’s participation in the development of 5G wireless networks in the United States.

Beijing and Washington have hit each other with tariffs on US$360 billion (S$490 billion) in two-way trade since last year, rattling markets and weighing on the manufacturing sector while fueling concerns about a weakening global economy.

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