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China and the United States discussed a road map for the next stage of their trade talks on Tuesday during a telephone call between Vice Premier Liu He, U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer.
U.S. President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping agreed at a Dec. 1 meeting in Argentina to a truce that delayed a planned Jan. 1 U.S. increase of tariffs to 25 percent from 10 percent on $200 billion worth 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 early on Tuesday, Beijing time, on a prearranged 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 without elaborating.
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.
Without mentioning the call or providing details, Trump said in a post on Twitter: “Very productive conversations going on with China! Watch for some important announcements!”
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 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.
Some global financial markets have been jittery about the 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 recent arrest of a top executive at China’s Huawei Technologies Co Ltd [HWT.UL] has also roiled many world markets amid fears it could further inflame the China-U.S. trade row.