Beijing-Washington to resume trade talks in October

BEIJING: China and the United States will return to the table in Washington in early October, Beijing said on Thursday.

The world’s two biggest economies have been entangled in a tense year-long tariffs row, which escalated on September 1 when both sides exchanged fresh tariffs on goods worth around $ 500 billion.

The talks were supposed to have resumed this month but China’s commerce ministry said Vice Premier Liu He, Beijing’s man on trade, agreed to October in a phone call with US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin on Thursday.

The officials accepted to “work together and take reasonable actions to create positive conditions for consultations”, the ministry said in a statement. It added both sides would “maintain close communication” ahead of the talks.

The top officials last met in Shanghai in July for discussions that were described as “constructive” but ended with no announcements.

US President Donald Trump soon afterward said he would increase tariffs on more than half-a-trillion dollars’ worth of imports, prompting Beijing to respond with fresh tariffs on US goods worth $75 billion. Those were the levies that kicked in this month.

Tensions continued to mount over the summer, with Trump earlier this week accusing Chinese negotiators of holding out for a better deal in hopes he will be voted out in next year’s presidential elections.

Officials in Beijing on Wednesday presented new measures to keep the country’s economy growing in the face of an “increasingly complicated and challenging external environment”, according to an official statement.

The US president has also claimed China is being forced back to the negotiating table because of the country’s slowing economy.

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