Sino-US trade talks to resume in Washington in October
BEIJING : China and the US will resume trade talks in Washington in early October, Beijing said yesterday, allaying fears that new punitive tariffs would lead to a breakdown in the protracted negotiations.
The world's two biggest economies have been embroiled in a tense year-long tariff row, which escalated on Sept 1 when both sides swopped fresh levies on goods worth hundreds of billions of dollars.
The talks were supposed to have resumed this month but China's Commerce Ministry said Vice-Premier Liu He, Beijing's pointman on trade, agreed to October in a phone call with US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin yesterday.
The officials agreed to "work together and take practical actions to create favourable conditions for consultations", the ministry said in a statement. It added that both sides would "maintain close communication" ahead of the talks.
The news will be seen as a sign of optimism in a trade war that has weighed on the global economy and stock markets while also shaking diplomatic relations between the two global powers.
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 afterwards 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 US$75 billion (S$104 billion), both levies kicked in this month.
Tensions continued to mount over the summer, with Mr Trump earlier this week accusing Chinese negotiators of holding out for a better deal in hopes that he will be voted out in next year's presidential election.
He has also claimed that China is being forced back to the negotiating table because of the country's slowing economy.
While Mr Trump points to China's weakening economy, observers warned that a survey on Tuesday showing the US manufacturing sector had contracted for the first time in three years was a worrying sign.
At the recent Group of Seven meeting in France, Mr Trump spoke of new communications between the US and Chinese negotiators - giving financial markets a brief boost - though China's Foreign Ministry said it was unaware of such contacts. - AFP