US and China discuss next stage of trade talks

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China and the United States discussed the road map for the next stage of their trade talks on Tuesday, during a telephone call between Chinese Vice Premier Liu He and U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer.

Earlier this month in Argentina, U.S. President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping agreed to a truce that delayed the planned Jan. 1 U.S. hike of tariffs to 25 percent from 10 percent on $200 billion of Chinese goods.

Lighthizer said on Sunday that unless U.S.-China trade talks wrapped up successfully by March 1, new tariffs would be imposed, clarifying there was a “hard deadline” after a week of seeming confusion among Trump and his advisers.

China’s commerce ministry said in a statement Liu had spoken to Mnuchin and Lighthizer on Tuesday morning, Beijing time, on a pre-arranged telephone call.

“Both sides exchanged views on putting into effect the consensus reached by the two countries’ leaders at their meeting, and pushing forward the timetable and roadmap for the next stage of economic and trade consultations work,” the ministry said.

It did not elaborate.

A U.S. Treasury spokesman confirmed that the call with Liu took place, but offered no further details. The U.S. Trade Representative’s office did not immediately respond to a query about the call.

The Wall Street Journal, citing people familiar with the issue, said Liu planned to go to Washington after the new year.

The Harvard-educated Liu, Xi’s top economic adviser, is leading the talks on the Chinese side.

In comments reported separately by China’s Foreign Ministry, the government’s top diplomat, State Councillor Wang Yi, said if China and the United States cooperated, it would benefit the whole world.

“If China and the United States are antagonistic, then there are no winners, and it will hurt the whole world,” Wang told a forum.

The United States should look at China’s development in a more positive light, and constantly look to “expand the space and prospects for mutual benefit”, he said.

Global markets are jittery about a growing clash between the world’s two largest economic powers over China’s huge trade surplus with the United States and Washington’s claims that Beijing is stealing intellectual property and technology.

The arrest of a top executive at China’s Huawei Technologies has also roiled global markets amid fears that it could further inflame the China-U.S. trade row.

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