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US-China talks to resume amid tariff fight

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US-China talks to resume amid tariff fight

US-China talks to resume amid tariff fight

Top US and Chinese officials will resume trade talks in accordance with the wishes of their leaders, the Chinese commerce ministry says.

Negotiations to reach a broad trade deal broke down last month after US officials accused China of backing away from previously agreed commitments.

Hopes have been rekindled by a phone call between US President Donald Trump and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping on Wednesday, and confirmation they will meet at next week’s G20 summit in Japan.

US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer said on Wednesday he would speak by telephone to Liu He, China’s vice premier and chief negotiator in the trade talks, “in the next day and a half”.

“The heads of the two trade teams will communicate, according to instructions passed down from the two presidents,” Chinese commerce ministry spokesman Gao Feng told reporters, without elaborating.

“We hope (the United States) will create the necessary conditions and atmosphere for solving problems through dialogue as equals.”

The two countries have imposed increasingly severe tariffs on each other’s imports. China has vowed to not give in on issues of principle or under US pressure.

Trump has threatened to put tariffs on another $US325 billion ($A472 billion) worth of goods, covering nearly all remaining Chinese imports into the United States including consumer products such as phones, computers and clothing.

The prospect of a de-escalation in the dispute has helped cheer financial markets weighed by threats of more tariff measures and countermeasures, and strident rhetoric from both countries.

But three main differences remain, including the removal of all additional tariffs, China says. Both sides have disagreed over trade purchases and a “balanced” text for any trade deal.

Those three “matters of principle” cannot be compromised, China has said.

Asked if China’s demands for a trade deal were still tied to the three issues being met, Gao said: “China’s principles and basic stance on Sino-US economic and trade consultations have always been clear and consistent, and China’s core concerns must be properly resolved.”

The US Trade Representative’s Office kicked off seven days of testimony this week from US retailers, manufacturers and other businesses about Trump’s tariff plan.

China hopes the United States would listen to its industry voices, and stop threatening tariffs and waging a trade war, Gao said, adding that such behaviour was “wrong” and should be “abandoned”.

The upcoming trade talks between Xi and Trump are unlikely to immediately resolve major disagreements between the two sides but could start a new phase in negotiations, Chinese state media said on Thursday.

Influential Chinese newspaper, the Global Times, said China had sent a clear signal to the United States that “China can never be daunted.”

The Trump administration has accused China of failing to protect intellectual property rights, forced technology transfers and of failing to provide a level playing field for U.S. companies.

China has repeatedly promised to open its market wider to foreign investors and provide them with better services and treatment.

Speaking to a group of 19 chief executives of foreign multinationals in Beijing on Thursday, Premier Li Keqiang reiterated those promises.

“China will maintain our long-standing commitment to reform and opening in order to continue to expand and open. We welcome more and more foreign investment to come to China,” Li said, in comments in front of reporters.

“We will also relax (restrictions on) access to even more fields to create a market-oriented, law-based internationalised business environment.”

By Agencies

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