As the fate of a partial trade agreement hangs in the balance, China said that it seeks to maintain close communications with the United States in an effort to put an end to their more-than-yearlong tariff dispute.
According to the state-run news agency Xinhua, Chinese Commerce Ministry spokesperson Gao Feng said in a news conference on Thursday that China is ready to work with the U.S. to resolve concerns “on the basis of equality and mutual respect” as they approach a “phase one” deal that “serves the interests of both countries and the rest of the world.”
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On Saturday, Chinese Vice Premier Liu He joined a phone call with U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin to discuss terms of the agreement. Beijing seeks greater tariff reductions, and Washington is pushing for guidelines on intellectual property protection, among other concessions.
The world’s two largest economies agreed to a “phase one” agreement in October, but since then, they have made conflicting announcements on the status of trade talks. On Nov. 7, Gao said that the U.S. and China had reached a deal to roll back tariffs scheduled to take effect next month. A day later, however, Trump denied having agreed to curtail those duties.
In the past year and a half, the U.S. and China have imposed new duties on billions of dollars in items coming from both countries. The first round of the fourth tranche of tariffs took effect on Sept. 1 and introduced a 15% levy on certain Chinese products, including footwear, apparel and accessories. China retaliated with duties on U.S. imports that ranged from 5% to 10%.
Less than a month remains before the tariffs on the second round of the fourth tranche are scheduled to take effect on Dec. 15. The 15% levy would also affect a wide variety of consumer goods.
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