China-United States head for trade negotiation, signs ending trade war


Representatives from China and the United States are planning to meet in January to negotiate an agreement on putting an end to the trade war between the two countries, the Chinese Commerce Ministry said on Thursday.

The U.S. team will be led by Deputy Trade Representative Jeffrey Gerrish and will include David Malpass, Treasury undersecretary for global affairs, Bloomberg said.

Both sides are engaged in a bruising trade war but relations have thawed since Chinese President Xi Jinping and US President Donald Trump agreed to a 90-day truce earlier this month.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin did tell Bloomberg the two sides have had phone discussions since then.

Chinese and USA officials have been in constant contact since the meeting in Argentina, but China isn't exactly clear on the specifics of what the US wants, according to two people in Beijing with knowledge of the talks.

The White House imposed a deadline of March 1 to reach a deal or move ahead with additional tariffs on Chinese goods, but President Trump has suggested in public comments that the date could be extended.

But the move, which comes after years of talks on the matter, follows pledges from China's commerce ministry of further USA trade openings earlier this week. China also announced the suspension from January 1 to March 31, 2019, of 25 percent of the taxes applied to 144 products of the United States automotive sector and advanced new agreements in the fields of agriculture and energy.

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China, meanwhile, wants the remove the punitive tariffs that have been imposed and not add new ones, but suspects the USA will ask for more before it agrees to do that, the people said.

USA stocks extended gains on news of the talks.

Publicly, Trump is pushing the Asian nation to reduce trade barriers and stop alleged theft of intellectual property.

In response to the United States effort, China started importing USA soybeans for the first time in six months.

While next month's meeting is a positive development, the two sides are not on track to make the kind of large-scale breakthrough that the Trump administration is seeking, according to Derek Scissors, a China expert at the American Enterprise Institute.

Trump said his agreement with Xi would go down "as one of the largest deals ever made".