US, China speak on key issues in trade dispute

Washington: Washington and Beijing are making ‘headway’ on key issues in their ongoing trade dispute and discussions will continue, the US Trade Representative’s office said following a phone call between senior officials. President Donald Trump heralded a major win in his offensive against China two weeks ago, saying the economic powers were close to concluding a “substantial phase one deal.”

However the details were, and remain, scarce and the two sides have not announced rollbacks of existing tariffs on hundreds of billions of dollars in trade. US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin spoke with China’s Vice Premier Liu He on “Phase One of the US-China trade agreement,” the USTR announced. “They made headway on specific issues and the two sides are close to finalizing some sections of the agreement,” the statement said.

The Chinese Commerce Ministry said Saturday both sides agreed to “properly address each other’s core concerns.” China will lift a ban on US poultry imports while the United States will import Chinese-made cooked poultry and catfish products, it said in a statement. Both sides have said discussions will go on continuously at the deputy level and the top trade officials will have another call “in the near future.” Trump said China committed to a surge in purchases of US farm products and the deal also covers intellectual property, financial services and currencies. The White House held off on a massive tariff increase planned for 15 October on $250 billion in Chinese goods but new 15 per cent tariffs on another $150 billion in goods are still scheduled for December.