China and U.S. to hold trade talks in Beijing next week

BEIJING (Reuters) – China and the United States will hold vice ministerial level trade talks in Beijing on Monday and Tuesday, as the two countries face pressure to end a trade war that is hurting the world’s two top economies and roiling global financial markets.

For much of the past year, the trade war has disrupted the flow of hundreds of billions of dollars worth of goods and hit the global economy. Official data this week showed manufacturing activity slowed in both countries, and companies such as Apple Inc (AAPL.O) and Cargill Inc [CARG.UL] said the trade battle had hit earnings.

A team led by Deputy U.S. Trade Representative Jeffrey Gerrish will come to China to have “positive and constructive discussions” with Chinese counterparts, China’s commerce ministry said in a statement on its website.

In a separate statement on Friday, USTR said the delegation will also include Under Secretaries from the U.S. Departments of Agriculture, Commerce, Energy and Treasury, as well as senior officials from those agencies and the White House.

Neither statement provided more details about the talks, but in an interview with Fox News Business Network, White House Economic Advisor Larry Kudlow said the discussions will examine “the whole story,” including commodities, agriculture and industrial capital goods.

At a summit in Argentina late last year, U.S. President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping agreed to hold off on additional tariffs for 90 days while they attempted to negotiate a deal.

Now, the countries face a March deadline for talks to end the damaging trade war, or Washington could proceed with a sharp hike in U.S. tariffs and Beijing could retaliate.

U.S. and Chinese flags are seen before Defense Secretary James Mattis welcomes Chinese Minister of National Defense Gen. Wei Fenghe to the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia, U.S., November 9, 2018. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas

Trump has said talks are progressing well, but it remained unclear if Beijing will yield to U.S. demands for more open markets, forced technology transfer and industrial subsidies. Meeting some of those demands would require difficult structural reform.

“We know what sort of changes we need. Now, the question is can we negotiate these changes and can we do so with enforcement (and) with timetables,” Kudlow said on Friday.

USTR said in the statement the delegation will include Chief Agricultural Negotiator Gregg Doud, USDA Under Secretary for Trade and Foreign Agricultural Affairs Ted McKinney, Department of Commerce Under Secretary for International Trade Gilbert Kaplan, Department of Energy Assistant Secretary for Fossil Energy Steven Winberg, and Treasury’s Under Secretary for International Affairs David Malpass.

Reporting by Michael Martina and Judy Hua in Beijing and Chris Prentice in New York and Tim Ahmann in Washington; Editing by Kim Coghill and David Gregorio

Tagged ,