May 25, 2018 / 3:04 AM / 25 days ago

U.S. Commerce's Ross to visit China for trade talks in early June

BEIJING (Reuters) - U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross will visit China early next month for another round of talks amid ongoing trade frictions between the world’s two largest economies.

FILE PHOTO: U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross arrives at a Senate Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies Subcommittee holds a hearing on the FY2019 funding request and budget justification for the Commerce Department on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., May 10, 2018. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas

Ross will visit China from June 2 to June 4, the official Xinhua news agency reported on Friday, adding that Vice Premier Liu He, China’s chief negotiator in the trade dispute, had spoken with Ross over the phone. It gave no further details.

The trade dispute took on added complexity this week when U.S. President Donald Trump announced a national security investigation into imports of cars and trucks, a probe that could lead to tariffs against China as well as key U.S. allies such as Canada, Mexico, Japan and Germany.

U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told CNBC on Monday that Ross is aiming to negotiate “a framework” that could then turn into “binding agreements ... between companies.”

In the last round of talks in Washington in mid-May, China agreed to ramp up purchases of U.S. agriculture and energy products, and the two sides worked towards a possible reprieve for ZTE Corp (000063.SZ)(0763.HK) from a U.S. ban on American companies supplying the Chinese maker of telecoms equipment.

The developments and constructive comments from both sides eased fears that the United States and China could plunge into a trade war, but President Donald Trump said this week that any deal would need “a different structure,” fueling uncertainty over the negotiations.

Trump has threatened to impose tariffs on up to $150 billion of Chinese goods to combat what he says is Beijing’s misappropriation of U.S. technology through joint venture requirements and other policies.

Beijing has threatened equal retaliation, including tariffs on some of its largest U.S. imports, including aircraft, soybeans and autos.

Reporting by Stella Qiu and Tony Munroe; Editing by Kim Coghill

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