April 24, 2019 / 8:26 AM / a month ago

Top U.S. officials to hold trade talks in China next week

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin will travel to Beijing for trade talks beginning on April 30, the White House said in a statement on Tuesday.

FILE PHOTO: Chinese staffers adjust U.S. and Chinese flags before the opening session of trade negotiations between U.S. and Chinese trade representatives at the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse in Beijing, Thursday, Feb. 14, 2019. Mark Schiefelbein/Pool via REUTERS

It said Chinese Vice Premier Liu He, who will lead the Beijing talks for China, will also travel to Washington for more discussions starting on May 8.

“The subjects of next week’s discussions will cover trade issues including intellectual property, forced technology transfer, non-tariff barriers, agriculture, services, purchases, and enforcement,” the White House said.

Beijing and Washington are seeking a deal to end a bitter trade war marked by tit-for-tat tariffs that have cost the world’s two largest economies billions of dollars, disrupted supply chains and rattled financial markets.

Earlier on Tuesday, Larry Kudlow, director of the White House National Economic Council, said the United States and China were making progress in the talks and he was “cautiously optimistic” about the prospects for striking a deal.

“We’re not there yet, but we’ve made a heck of a lot of progress,” Kudlow, speaking in a luncheon at the National Press Club, said in response to questions from reporters.

“We’ve come further and deeper, broader, larger-scale than anything in the history of U.S.-China trade.”

“We’ve gotten closer and we’re still working on the issues, so-called structural issues, technology transfers,” Kudlow added. “Ownership enforcement is absolutely crucial. Lowering barriers to buy and sell agriculture and industrial commodities. It’s all on the table.”

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang did not confirm the dates for the next round of talks during a regular news briefing in Beijing on Wednesday, but said the two sides were maintaining contact.

“The trade negotiations between China and the United States have already achieved tangible progress,” Geng said.

The United States is seeking changes from China that range from reducing industrial subsidies to halting forced technology transfers by U.S. companies seeking to enter the Chinese market.

Reporting by Alexandra Alper, David Alexander and Eric Beech; Additional reporting by Martin Pollard and Tom Daly in Beijing; Editing by Bernadette Baum and Rosalba O'Brien

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