Chinese Vice Premier Liu He is officially set to visit the United States to help negotiate an end to the long-lasting trade war between both countries.
Liu has accepted an invitation to visit Washington, D.C., on January 30 and 31, where he will speak with both U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin. As China’s top economic official, the vice premier will lead his country’s trade delegation during the two-day visit as they work to reach a final trade agreement.
The upcoming talk will be the latest phase of what’s been a lengthy negotiation process between the U.S. and China.
Earlier this month, American negotiators spent several days in Beijing as they glossed over preliminary disagreements. Originally intended to last only two days, officials on both sides decided to extend the talks to a third day as they inched closer to a an understanding on a number of issues.
Liu’s planned visit to the U.S. later this month is a sign that negotiations are moving forward.
“It’s a positive development to show that enough progress was made in talks earlier this month,” Nicholas Lardy, a senior fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics, said to the South China Morning Post, adding that the fact the talks will be ahead of Chinese New Year is anther sign of momentum. “But the chance is still slim that a complete resolution will be reached in this round.”
Chinese negotiators have already submitted to a number of concessions, which include increased purchases of U.S. farm and energy commodities, a granting of more access into Chinese markets, an improvement of property theft protections and a pledge to no longer pressure foreign companies to hand over technology secrets.
U.S. negotiators are also taking steps to ensure China holds true to their pledges. The country has been known to not follow through on past international agreements. American officials have, for example, asked their Chinese counterparts to list specifics on their import pledges and have floated the possibility of keeping tariffs in place until China fulfills its obligations.
In return for these concessions, President Donald Trump would agree to end the hefty tariffs he’s placed on Chinese imports.
The president slapped a 25 percent tariff on $50 billion worth of Chinese imports last July and August. Trump, who has referred to himself a “tariff man,” doubled down in September, hitting the country with a 10 percent tariff on an additional $200 billion worth of Chinese goods.
Trump was prepared to move forward with even more tariffs, but the trade war reached a detente in December when Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping, meeting at the G-20 Summit in Buenos Aires, agreed on a 90-day truce in order to reach a permanent compromise.
Negotiators have until March 1 to reach an agreement before Trump’s new tariffs are set to go into effect.
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