China’s Vice Premier Liu He is meeting with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin (R) and US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer (L) in a bid to settle a months-long trade dispute (Nicolas ASFOURI, NICOLAS ASFOURI)
Beijing (AFP) – Top negotiators from China and the United States began a fresh round of trade talks in Beijing on Friday to settle a bruising dispute that has threatened to blight the global economy.
US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin were greeted by Vice Premier Liu He at the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse as they seek to resolve the months-long trade war between the world’s top two economies.
As the US delegation left its hotel for a full day of talks, Mnuchin told reporters the officials had a “very productive” working dinner on Thursday.
“It’s a pleasure to see you again,” Mnuchin told Liu as they exchanged pleasantries before their meeting.
Officials are seeking to iron out major differences over US accusations that China has been using unfair trade practices for years by heavily subsidising its companies while snatching the technological know-how of American firms.
US President Donald Trump has said that the two sides were close to a deal, but officials have played down expectations of an imminent agreement.
Liu will travel to Washington next week for another set of negotiations.
In Washington, White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow said Thursday the talks could last weeks or even months if necessary.
The Chinese commerce ministry said a “large amount of work” remains to be done.
The two sides have imposed tariffs on $360 billion in two-way trade since last year but Trump and Chinese leader Xi Jinping agreed to a truce in December.
Trump suggested last week that some of those tariffs should stay in place after a deal is reached to ensure China keeps its end of any bargain.
Beijing has taken steps to address some US complaints, rushing through a law this month that promises to protect foreign firms from the forced transfer of technology.
But US officials want China to show that it will enforce any law that aims to protect intellectual property rights of American companies.
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