BEIJING (Reuters) – China and the United States discussed the road map for the next stage of their trade talks on Tuesday, during a telephone call between Chinese Vice Premier Liu He and U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer.
Earlier this month in Argentina, U.S. President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping agreed to a truce that delayed the planned Jan. 1 U.S. hike of tariffs to 25 percent from 10 percent on $200 billion of Chinese goods.
Lighthizer said on Sunday that unless U.S.-China trade talks wrap up successfully by March 1, new tariffs will be imposed, clarifying there is a “hard deadline” after a week of seeming confusion among Trump and his advisers.
China’s Commerce Ministry, in a brief statement, said Liu had spoken with Mnuchin and Lighthizer on Tuesday morning Beijing time on a pre-arranged 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.
It did not elaborate.
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.
The Harvard-education Liu, Xi’s top economic advisor, is leading the talks from China’s end.
Global markets are jittery about a collision 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 arrest of a top executive at China’s Huawei Technologies Co Ltd [HWT.UL] has also roiled global markets amid fears that it could further inflame the China-U.S. trade row.
Reporting by Ben Blanchard and Lusha Zhang; Additional reporting by David Lawder in Washington; Editing by Richard Borsuk & Shri Navaratnam
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