Talks between China and the United States this week made important progress, President Xi Jinping told top U.S. trade negotiators on Friday, adding that efforts would continue in Washington next week to resolve their bruising trade war.
Xi met U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin after a full week of trade negotiations at senior and deputy levels in Beijing, and called for a deal both sides could accept, state media said.
U.S. duties on $200 billion worth of imports from China are set to rise to 25 percent from 10 percent if no deal is reached by March 1 to address U.S. demands that China curb forced technology transfers and better enforce intellectual property rights.
After the conclusion of talks, which included a banquet on Thursday, Mnuchin said on Twitter that he and Lighthizer had held “productive meetings” with Xi’s top economic adviser, Vice Premier Liu He.
“The consultations between the two sides’ teams achieved important step-by-step progress,” Xi said, according to state television.
“Next week, both sides will meet again in Washington. I hope you will continue efforts to advance reaching a mutually beneficial, win-win agreement,” Xi said during a meeting at Beijing’s Great Hall of the People.
He added that China was willing to take a “cooperative approach” to settling bilateral trade frictions.
Lighthizer told Xi the senior officials had “two very good days” of talks.
“We feel that we have made headway on very, very important, and very difficult issues. We have additional work to do but we are hopeful,” Lighthizer said, according to a foreign media pool video.
Neither country has yet offered new details on how the world’s two largest economies might de-escalate the tariff war that has roiled financial markets and disrupted manufacturing supply chains.
Although U.S. President Donald Trump said this week that an extension of the tariff deadline was possible if a “real deal” was close, Larry Kudlow, director of the National Economic Council, has said the White House had made no such decision.
But several sources informed about the meetings told Reuters there was little indication negotiators had made major progress on sticking points to pave the way for a potential meeting between Xi and Trump in coming weeks to hammer out a deal.
“Stalemate on the important stuff,” said one of the sources, all of whom requested anonymity because the talks are confidential.
“There’s still a lot of distance between parties on structural and enforcement issues,” said a second source. “I wouldn’t quite call it hitting a wall, but it’s not a field of dreams either.”
A third source told Reuters the White House was “irate” over earlier reports that the Trump administration was considering a 60-day extension of the tariff deadline.
Lighthizer and Mnuchin left their Beijing hotel on Friday afternoon without taking questions from reporters.