China, U.S. kick off new round of high-level trade talks in Washington

China, U.S. kick off new round of high-level trade talks in Washington

WASHINGTON, Feb. 22 (Rahnuma): China and the United States kicked off a fresh round of high-level economic and trade talks here on Thursday morning, as negotiators strive to beat a 90-day deadline that ends on March 1.

The Chinese delegation is headed by Vice Premier Liu He, who also came as the special envoy of Chinese President Xi Jinping; while the U.S. team includes Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.

Liu, Lighthizer and Mnuchin co-chaired the formal opening at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building of the White House.

The Chinese attendees of the opening included Governor of the People’s Bank of China Yi Gang, Chinese Ambassador to the United States Cui Tiankai, Deputy Director of the Office of the Central Commission for Financial and Economic Affairs and Vice Finance Minister Liao Min, Vice Foreign Minister Zheng Zeguang, Vice Minister of Agriculture and Rural Affairs Han Jun, Vice Minister of Commerce and Deputy China International Trade Representative Wang Shouwen, as well as Cong Liang, secretary general of the National Development and Reform Commission.

On the U.S. side, major officials attending the opening included Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, Director of the National Economic Council Larry Kudlow, and Peter Navarro, assistant to the president for trade and manufacturing policy and director of the National Trade Council, among others.

The two-day talks, the seventh round since last February, came on the heels of the just-concluded round held in Beijing from Feb. 14 to 15, and the working-level consultation between the two sides has started here earlier on Tuesday.

Altogether these discussions aimed to resolve outstanding issues regarding the economic and trade relations between the world’s two largest economies, as negotiators of both sides have worked relentlessly to achieve consensus on issues of major concern before March 1.

With the current round counted in, there have been three rounds of talks between the two sides in less than a month since the end of January, despite the week-long Lunar New Year holidays in China and Washington’s Birthday long weekend here in the United States.

During the talks last week, the two sides reached consensus in principle on major issues, and had specific discussions about a memorandum of understanding on bilateral economic and trade issues.

After months of escalating trade friction involving massive extra tariffs on imports from each other, Chinese President Xi Jinping and his U.S. counterpart Donald Trump agreed on Dec. 1 that the two countries should manage to reach a mutually beneficial and win-win agreement within 90 days to break the impasse.

The trade standoff has had negative impacts on both economies and added much uncertainty to global markets and the world economy.

During a meeting with the U.S. delegation last week, the Chinese president once again highlighted the role of cooperation in resolving the economic and trade differences and frictions, and urged negotiators of the two sides to “make persistent efforts” to reach a mutually beneficial deal.

“Cooperation is the best choice for both sides,” Xi said, adding that “of course, there are principles in cooperation.”

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