U.S., China Set to Finish Trade Talks Mnuchin Calls `Productive’

U.S.-China trade talks enter crucial phase before Trump's tariff call

-China dispute since Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping late previous year shelved any new tariffs and reset discussions for 90 days. Vice President Mike Pence leads the USA delegation while Politburo member Yang Jiechi will be the most senior Chinese official.

Officials from the world's top two economies are holding negotiations in Beijing on Thursday and Friday in a bid to resolve their thorny trade dispute.

The drumbeat of global trade developments has convulsed markets since U.S. President Donald Trump announced tariffs on steel and aluminium imports a year ago, sparking concerns that a full-blown trade dispute would undermine the global economy. "They're showing us tremendous respect", he added.

-China trade talks in Beijing this week.

The two sides entered the two days of high-level talks on Thursday amid a flurry of positive signals that progress was being made.

Trump expressed optimism when he reiterated the possibility of extending the March 1 deadline.

China has pledged to end market-distorting subsidies for its domestic industries but offered no details on how it would achieve that goal, according to three people familiar with the U.S.

U.S. President Donald Trump speaks in the Oval Office of the White House, in Washington, D.C., on February 13, 2019. They left without talking to reporters.

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Total goods trade rose 8.7 percent year on year in January to 2.73 trillion yuan (395.98 billion US dollars), the General Administration of Customs said in an online statement Thursday.

The Wall Street Journal said China had offered to boost imports of USA goods with promises of major purchases of semiconductors and other items, but that officials "remained deadlocked on a number of issues". "Some patience is needed", said Zhang Yansheng, chief researcher at China Center for International Economic Exchanges, a government-linked think tank, adding negotiating China's entry into the WTO took more than a decade.

Pressure on the Chinese economy could spike if Beijing and Washington do not reach a deal soon to end their year-long trade dispute, which is estimated to have cost both countries billions of U.S. dollars already and is taking a growing toll on other export-reliant economies from Asia to Europe.

Both sides are trying to reach a deal before March 1, when Mr Trump has scheduled a surge in tariffs, from 10 per cent to 25 per cent, on $US200 billion ($282 billion) worth of Chinese imports.

Beijing has offered to boost its purchases of U.S. goods but is widely expected to resist calls for major changes to its industrial policies such as slashing government subsidies. On the American side, that includes Jeffrey Gerrish, a deputy trade representative, and David Malpass, a Treasury undersecretary who's Trump's nominee for World Bank president.

The U.S. negotiating team has certainly prepared a long list of terms to negotiate, and with Trump's unpredictable nature some people are expecting a tough road ahead before a final deal can be reached.

Another key point, not specifically mentioned in the White House statement, has been China's state subsidies to its leading corporations, which the U.S. claims are "market distorting".

Trump had originally threatened to escalate tariffs on China after March 1, but this week eased up on that ultimatum pending the outcome in Beijing, with Bloomberg News reporting he could push it back 60 days.

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