U.S. official Lighthizer arrives in China ahead of trade talks

U.S. official Lighthizer arrives in China ahead of trade talks

U.S. official Lighthizer arrives in China ahead of trade talks

But the two sides are only just starting the work of drafting a common document and are still tussling over how a deal may be enforced, which US officials have repeatedly called a crucial element.

The fact that a presidential-level meeting is still in the cards - and that both sides are now reportedly angling for it to happen in mid-to-late March - means that the 90 days of trade talks are likely to be extended past the March 2 deadline.

The world's two largest economies are trying to hammer out a deal before a March 1 deadline, after which U.S. tariffs on US$200 billion (S$271 billion) worth of Chinese imports are scheduled to increase to 25 per cent from 10 per cent.

White House economic adviser Kevin Hassett said the Trump administration was pleased that the talks were moving forward but cautioned that March 1 is a "real deadline" for reaching a deal.

"He wants to meet with President Xi very soon", White House adviser Kellyanne Conway said Monday on Fox News.

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In December, Washington suspended for three months its plan to increase tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese imports - to 25 percent from the current 10 percent - to allow time for negotiators to work out a trade spat that has triggered fears of a global economic slowdown.

Uncertainty whether the leaders will meet to finalize an agreement has stoked concerns that negotiations are faltering as the March 1 deadline approaches.

The next leg of trade talk is due to resume in Beijing on Monday, the 11th of February, which will also be followed by a high-level talk between February 14th and 15th. China would likely respond by raising tariffs on $60 billion worth of U.S goods that it announced past year in retaliation. Beijing officials have yet to offer satisfying proposals on USA demands.

While those purchases will provide relief to US farmers, there has been no breakthrough on the structural issues separating the two nations, such as industrial policy, government subsidies, protection of intellectual property or forced transfers of technology. "And, absolutely, you know, we've put everything on the table, including IP theft and forced technology transfer and so on".

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