Top Chinese Aide to Visit Washington for Trade Talks

High-level talks between China and the United States aimed at resolving the trade conflict between the world’s two largest economies are set to continue, with a top aide of Chinese President Xi Jinping scheduled to visit the U.S. later this month.

Vice Premier Liu He, Xi’s economic-policy captain, will meet with U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin at the end of January, said sources familiar with the matter. The plan, however, could change due to the partial government shutdown, they added.

The high-level trade talks will come after the midlevel ones held in Beijing this week, led by Deputy U.S. Trade Representative Jeffrey Gerrish and Chinese Vice Commerce Minister Wang Shouwen. The talks, which concluded on Wednesday, addressed issues including more Chinese purchases of U.S. products, greater access to China’s markets by U.S. businesses and better protection of American intellectual property, The Wall Street Journal reports.

It adds that U.S. negotiators further pressed China to keep its promises, unlike past practices when Beijing would often walk back on vows only increasing barriers for foreign businesses in China.

According to people briefed on the matter, the talks were cordial and “no fist fights” were exchanged, but no breakthroughs were achieved as well, at least concerning more challenging trade issues.

However, both the U.S. and China have said they are making progress and believe the talks so far have been productive. President Donald Trump confirmed in a tweet at the beginning of this week that negotiations were going well.

The trade negotiations are part of a temporary trade truce reached by the leaders of the two countries during their meeting in Argentina on December 1. As part of that truce, President Trump suspended planned tariff increases on $200 billion of Chinese goods until March 1.

Should the two sides fail to reach a trade deal by then, the Trump administration will increase the tariffs to 25% from the current 10%.

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