The two sides have been struggling with more than 100 issues raised by the United States in a lengthy statement given to Chinese officials in May
High-level talks between American and Chinese officials ended in Beijing on Friday afternoon with no immediate announcement from either side, according to an American government official, as two weeks remain until President Trump’s deadline for a resolution of the United States trade conflict with China.
It wasn’t immediately clear whether Robert Lighthizer, the United States trade representative, and treasury secretary Steven Mnuchin had made progress in resolving any of the thorny issues separating the two sides. The official spoke on the condition of anonymity because the talks are not public.
Mnuchin said on Twitter that they had ‘productive meetings’ with Liu He, China’s economic czar.
The two sides have been struggling with more than 100 issues raised by the United States in a lengthy statement given to Chinese officials in May. In the preparations for this week’s talks, the sides had been unable even to agree on a draft framework for the broad outlines of a possible deal, so expectations for any comprehensive settlement had been low from the start.
Many of the issues, like how to handle the tech sector, have been festering between the United States and China for a long time. Many high-tech issues are also changing and evolving along with the sector, making it especially difficult to put in place a durable agreement.
“Particularly in the areas of technology regulation and standards, it will be a game of Whac-a-Mole at best,” said James Green, who was the top trade official at the United States Embassy in Beijing until August and is now a senior nonresident fellow at Georgetown University.
The United States had given China a March 2 deadline toward reaching a deal and threatened to raise tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese goods to 25% from 10%. But Trump suggested this week that he could give China more time if the talks showed progress.
The negotiations this week have encompassed some issues on which incremental progress has been made in recent weeks, people briefed on the negotiations said. China has agreed to disclose more of its government subsidies to the World Trade Organisation, said these people, who insisted on anonymity because of diplomatic sensitivities in the talks.
Xi hails important progress
President Xi Jinping said US-China trade talks would continue next week in Washington, as the two sides race to reach a deal that would avert a tariff increase on Chinese goods by March 1.
“Negotiations between both sides have achieved important progress in another step,” Xi said after a round of trade talks wrapped up in Beijing, according China’s Xinhua News Agency. “Next week, both sides are going to meet in Washington. I hope you keep up the good work, and push for a mutually-benefiting and win-win agreement.”
Xi said he values the ‘good working relationship’ with President Donald Trump very much, and is willing to keep in touch with him in various ways. He added that China was ‘willing to solve the bilateral economic disputes and frictions through cooperation, and push for an agreement that both sides can accept. But cooperation has principles’.