U.S.-China talks on trade have presumably restarted ahead of a meeting of the two countries’ leaders due to take place this month.
According to people familiar with the developments, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Chinese Vice Premier Liu He spoke by phone on Friday regarding a deal that would help ease trade tensions, but China, fearing that it would lose leverage, refuses to meet U.S. demand that it make a formal proposal before negotiations on a trade deal can start.
As a result, trade talks between the two countries have been deadlocked lately and the Friday telephone conversation didn’t resolve any disputes, although it indicates that the United States and China, stuck in a wide-ranging trade war, are trying to reach some sort of an agreement, The Wall Street Journal writes.
A number of U.S. officials believe that Beijing will give in to demands and make a formal offer before the G-20 summit in Argentina later this month as well as that the world’s two largest economies will be able to reach a ceasefire in the trade battle, with the U.S. refraining from increasing tariffs.
However, the Chinese government does not expect to resolve the trade dispute at the upcoming summit, but rather to come up with specific negotiations expectations so that both sides can keep talks going after the G-20 summit.
The Trump administration remains divided on trade and U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer argues that the only way to get China to make necessary concessions is for the U.S. to continue with tariffs. So far, the United States has imposed tariffs on $250 billion worth of Chinese imports. The majority of those levies are to increase to 25% from 10% on January 1, unless President Donald Trump agrees to suspend the increase.
Chinese President Xi Jinping said his country expected to import services worth $10 trillion over the next 15 years, which U.S. companies would profit greatly from. However, some including Lightizer are skeptical as to whether China would go through with such a promise.
“There is a consistency in the (Chinese) messages that can be seen by optimists as the outlines of a deal,” said Michael Pillsbury, who consults frequently with the administration. “But it’s not an offer.”