WASHINGTON – Senior officials from the United States and China gathered on Thursday for a new round of trade talks, eight days before the deadline set by President Donald Trump for reaching a deal to avert the imposition of higher tariffs on imports from the Asian nation.
The US delegation is headed by Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross.
The Chinese representatives include Deputy Prime Minister Liu He, central bank chief Yi Gang and Deputy Finance Minister Zheng Zeguang.
The talks are set to last two days and it is possible that Trump will receive Liu at the White House at the end of the round.
The previous round was last week in Beijing.
Trump met last Saturday with the US negotiators after the sessions in Beijing and called the talks “very productive.”
Negotiators are working to meet Trump’s March 1 deadline for an agreement to avert an increase, from 10 percent to 25 percent, in the tariffs the US imposed last year on $200 billion in Chinese products.
Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping agreed during a Dec. 1 meeting in Buenos Aires to observe a 90-day truce in the trade battle between the world’s two largest economies.
The truce is set to expire at the beginning of next month, but the US president has hinted that he might extend the deadline if he saw the talks were making progress.
“I think the talks are going very well,” Trump said Tuesday. “I can’t tell you exactly about the timing. The date is not a magical date because a lot of things are happening. We’ll see what happens.”
The president has reiterated that it would be an “honor” to withdraw these tariffs if a pact with Beijing that includes greater access for American products to the Chinese market is finally reached.
China, for its part, has adopted several goodwill measures, such as lowering tariffs on imported vehicles from the US, resuming soy purchases from the United States and introducing an initiative that would prohibit forced technology transfer from American countries doing business in the Asian nation.
“I love tariffs, but I also love them (the Chinese) to negotiate,” Trump said last week. “If we make a deal, they won’t have to pay.”