US and China agree to hold fresh trade talks
Negotiations come as Washington prepares to impose new tariffs on $200bn of Chinese goods
China has accepted an invitation from the US to attend fresh talks aimed at resolving the trade war between the world’s two largest economies.
The latest round of negotiations comes as the Trump administration prepares to impose additional tariffs on $200 (£152bn) of Chinese goods.
The timing of the announcement was “something of a surprise,” says the South China Morning Post.
Many observers had expected there would be no further trade talks until after the US Congressional midterm elections on 6 November, the paper reports.
Last week, US President Donald Trump said the new tariffs could go into effect “very soon,” adding that he had tariffs on an additional $267bn (£203bn) worth of goods ready “on short notice if I want.”
To date, Beijing and Washington have introduced 25% tariffs on $50bn (£38.5bn) of each other’s imports, leading to higher costs for companies and consumers on both sides of the Pacific.
“The escalation of trade conflicts doesn't benefit either side's interests,” Chinese Commerce Ministry spokesman Gao Feng said yesterday.
“In fact, from last month’s preliminary talks in Washington, the two sides’ trade talk teams have maintained various forms of contact, and held discussions on the concerns of each side,” he said.
Low-level negotiations in August ended without agreement, but there are suggestions that this round of talks will involve senior officials.
The Wall Street Journal reports that Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin sent the offer to Chinese officials led by Vice Premier Liu He, the chief economic adviser to President Xi Jinping.
The invitation from Mnuchin comes as some Trump officials said they sense “a new vulnerability and possibly more flexibility” among Chinese officials pressured by US tariffs, the paper adds.