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Trade deal called likely in Sino-US talks

By JING SHUIYU in Beijing and ZHAO HUANXIN in Washington | China Daily Global | Updated: 2019-02-23 05:54
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China and the United States open the seventh round of trade talks on Thursday in Washington. Chinese Vice-Premier Liu He and US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer headed the highly anticipated two-day round of talks. [Photo by Zhao Huanxin / China Daily]

China and the United States are expected to reach a trade deal in the latest talks in Washington, marking the most significant progress toward ending the monthslong trade disputes, experts said.

The assessment came as the world’s two largest economies were scheduled to wrap up the seventh round of trade talks on Friday. Chinese Vice-Premier Liu He and US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer headed the talks, which started on Thursday.

High-level officials from both sides attended the opening of the talks, including Governor of the People’s Bank of China Yi Gang, US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and officials from the commerce and agricultural departments.

Given the influential figures participating in the talks, Wei Jianguo, vice-president of the China Center for International Economic Exchanges, said China and the US are expected to advance negotiations on a wide range of topics and reach important consensuses.

Other than trade and structural issues, the two sides may discuss interest rates and China’s further opening-up of the financial sector, Wei said.

The Washington meeting is the latest bid for China and the US to narrow differences and push for an agreement before March 1. That marks the end of a 90-day tariff truce that President Xi Jinping and US President Donald Trump agreed on the sidelines of the G20 Summit late last year. Following that, teams of both nations have intensified negotiations.

Zhang Yansheng, a senior researcher at the China Center for International Economic Exchanges, said a trade deal on certain issues is expected to be reached between China and the US, while he noted that some thorny problems may still remain for future talks.

Liang Ming, a senior researcher at the China Academy of International Trade and Economic Cooperation, was optimistic that the two sides can reach an agreement on key trade issues.

Liang said the recent intense consultations have laid a solid foundation for the two countries to find more common ground.

Sang Baichuan, director of the Institute of International Business at the University of International Business and Economics, said it’s normal that two leading economies have different opinions on certain issues. But he believed the differences can be ironed out sooner or later, as long as the two maintain closer contact to strive for consensuses.

Sang said the two countries can set up an updated framework to better work together in mutually beneficial ways and reduce the risk of confrontation.

Xinhua said attendees at the talks’ opening included Ambassador to the United States Cui Tiankai, Deputy Director of the Office of the Central Commission for Financial and Economic Affairs and Vice-Minister of Finance Liao Min, Vice-Minister of Foreign Affairs Zheng Zeguang, Vice-Minister of Agriculture and Rural Affairs Han Jun, Vice-Minister of Commerce and Deputy China International Trade Representative Wang Shouwen and Cong Liang, secretary- general of the National Development and Reform Commission.

On the US side, major officials included Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, Assistant to the President for Economic Policy Larry Kudlow and Assistant to the President for Trade and Manufacturing Policy Peter Navarro, according to the White House.

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