US, China plan trade talks next week in push for May agreement

Yangshan Free Trade Port as US-China trade conflict escalates/Bloomberg

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The two sides are seeking to have a draft agreement by the end of May.

Wednesday 24, April 2019

(Bloomberg) -- The White House announced that trade negotiators led by US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin will travel to Beijing next week, as both sides work to reach a draft agreement by next month.

The White House stated that talks starting on 20 April will cover trade issues including intellectual property, forced technology transfer as well as non-tariff barriers, agriculture services, and purchases and enforcement.

In return, Chinese officials led by Vice Premier Liu He are then expected to then head to Washington for discussions starting on 8 May.

Officials want to announce during Liu’s visit that they’ve agreed to a deal and details of a signing summit.

The US and China have stepped up diplomacy in recent weeks to try to resolve their yearlong trade squabble, with officials working toward a face-to-face meeting between Presidents Donald Trump and Xi Jinping to ink the deal.

Mnuchin has said that enforcement mechanisms will be reciprocal and the US is open to certain repercussions, in an address to one of the biggest sticking points in talks.

One mechanism being discussed, US officials have said, would require consultations between US and Chinese officials over disputes, but ultimately allow either side to impose trade sanctions unilaterally. The deal might also see both sides agree to forego their right to retaliate or challenge any enforcement action by the other at the World Trade Organisation.

Zhou Xiaoming, a former Chinese Ministry of Commerce Official and Diplomat, said, “The intense meetings indicated that the two sides have the pressure and willingness to reach a deal, but whether a deal can be reached or not, depends on both sides needing to show understanding and make concessions.”

US and Chinese officials have been in regular contact via teleconference since Liu last led a delegation to Washington in early April. The two sides are still haggling over an enforcement mechanism and what duties will stay in place or be removed.

TAGS : US Trade Representative , US-China Trade tension, WTO, Presidents Donald Trump, President Xi Jinping, Steven Mnuchin

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