Top Chinese, U.S. Officials Meet Ahead of Tariff Deadline

Chinese Deputy PM Liu He met with top U.S. officials in Beijing on Thursday for negotiations to avert a worsening of the countries’ trade war, ahead of a U.S. deadline for raising tariffs on Beijing’s goods further, The Washington Post reported.

Liu met with U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Secretary of the Treasury Steven Mnuchin following talks between the lower-level U.S. and Chinese officials earlier in the week. Both sides hope to resolve their dispute over two days of talks ahead of March 1, a deadline earlier set by U.S. President Donald Trump to extend tariffs on Chinese goods.

Since July, the United States has imposed tariffs of 25 percent on 50 billion dollars’ worth of Chinese goods and 10 percent on another 200 billion dollars’ worth, with China retaliating in a similar manner. The U.S. now stands to raise the 10-per-cent tariff to 25 percent.

The latest customs data from China shows that seven months in, the trade war has begun to bite. Imports from the U.S. dropped 41.2 percent in January, the General Administration of Customs said on Thursday, while exports to the U.S. fell 2.4 percent.

Overall, trade between the U.S. and China fell 13.9 percent to 45.7 billion dollars in January, the GAC said. China has managed to offset U.S. losses in other markets, with overall trade rising 4 percent in January, but in the U.S., the trade war has begun to hit both U.S. consumers and the agricultural industry.

On Tuesday, Trump said he may consider extending the tariff deadline if talks are almost concluded. Trump has repeatedly said he hopes to meet with Chinese President Xi Jinping to finalize a deal. Trump will travel to Vietnam at the end of February for a summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. Reports have said he could meet Xi while in Asia. The U.S. accuses China of unfair trade practices including intellectual property theft and forced technology transfers.

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