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China says trade envoy spoke with US treasury secretary

China says trade envoy spoke with US treasury secretary

United States Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen speaks during a press briefing at the White House in Washington on May 7, 2021. (File photo: AP/Patrick Semansky)

BEIJING: China’s chief trade envoy spoke with United States Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen on Wednesday (Jun 2), the Chinese government said, but gave no indication when negotiations on ending their tariff war might resume.

Speaking by video link, Vice Premier Liu He and Yellen discussed the economic situation, bilateral cooperation and other “issues of mutual concern”, according to a Commerce Ministry statement. It gave no details.

President Joe Biden, who took office in January, has yet to say what approach he will take to the conflict launched by his predecessor, Donald Trump, who raised tariffs on Chinese imports over complaints about Beijing’s industrial policy and trade surplus.

China retaliated by suspending purchases of US soya beans and raising tariffs on other goods.

READ: China, US can find common ground on tariff exclusions, says Chinese think tank

Commentary: Divided Americans can agree on one thing – antagonising China

Liu spoke by phone last week with Trade Representative Katherine Tai, the head of the US delegation to the tariff talks. Tai’s office said she discussed her “ongoing review” of the trade relationship.

Negotiators haven’t met in person since before the COVID-19 pandemic began in early 2020.

Lower-level officials hold monthly meetings by phone on the status of carrying out the “Phase 1” agreement from early 2019 aimed at ending the conflict.

The two sides agreed in the Phase 1 deal to suspend further tariff hikes on each other’s goods and to roll some back. 

China promised to buy more American soya beans and other exports, but fell behind on meeting that commitment after the pandemic disrupted global trade.

Source: AP/kg

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