July 24, 2019 / 12:18 PM / 5 months ago

Top U.S., China trade negotiators to meet in Shanghai next week

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Top U.S. and Chinese negotiators will meet face-to-face next week for the first time since Presidents Donald Trump and Xi Jinping agreed to revive talks to end their year-long trade war.

FILE PHOTO: U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin gives a briefing on cryptocurrency at the White House in Washington, U.S., July 15, 2019. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

The governments of the world’s largest economies have levied billions of dollars of tariffs on each other’s imports, disrupted global supply chains and shaken financial markets in their dispute over how China does business with the rest of the world.

U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer will meet with Chinese Vice Premier Liu He for talks in Shanghai starting on July 30, the White House said in a statement on Wednesday.

Talks collapsed in May after China reneged on promises made in earlier negotiations, U.S. government and private sector sources said at the time.

“There’ll be a few more meetings before we get a deal done,” Mnuchin told reporters at the White House on Wednesday.

“I wouldn’t expect that we’ll resolve all the issues. But the fact that we’re back at the table at the direction of the two presidents is important.”

The discussions would cover issues including intellectual property, forced technology transfer, non-tariff barriers, agriculture, services, the trade deficit, and how any deal is enforced, the White House said in the statement.

Global stocks edged up on the news.

At a meeting with Xi in late June, Trump agreed to suspend a new round of tariffs on $300 billion worth of imported Chinese consumer goods while the two sides resumed talks. The lead negotiators have since spoken by phone but not met face-to-face.

Trump said after his meeting with Xi that the United States would ease restrictions on Chinese tech giant Huawei Technologies and that China had agreed to make unspecified purchases of U.S. farm products.

Those purchases have yet to materialize, but White House economic advisor Larry Kudlow said on Tuesday he hoped they would be made soon.

Chinese officials briefed private importers last Friday on a plan to boost soybean purchases, according to three people familiar with the matter, who asked not to be named because of the sensitivity of the subject.

According to one of the sources, a group of five crushers were told by China’s state planner that they could apply for exemptions from the 25% tariffs on some U.S. soybean cargoes arriving before the end of December.

Chinese soybean crushers have little incentive to buy in bulk from the United States given the poor profit margins for processing soy and the possibility of another flare-up in the trade dispute, however, the sources said.

Beijing and Washington remain far apart on the terms of any deal. The United States wants China to correct what it sees as decades of unfair and illegal trading practices. China says both sides need to come out of any deal with concessions.

The International Monetary Fund cut its forecast for global growth on Tuesday amid concerns over various trade and tariff issues, including the U.S.-China trade dispute.

Reporting by Makini Brice and Susan Heavey in Washington; Additional reporting and writing by Chris Prentice in New York; Editing by Simon Webb and Sonya Hepisntall

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