There has been some “concrete progress” on a trade agreement between the United States and China according to Chinese state media “Xinghua”.
Chinese Vice-Premier Liu He had a telephone conversation with Robert Lighthizer, US Trade Representative, and Steven Mnuchin, US Treasury Secretary, on Thursday according to Xinhua.
The statement followed US President Donald Trump saying that Washington will know in a few weeks’ time if a trade deal with China is feasible, or not.
President Trump said “We’ll have news on China. Probably one way or the other, we’re going to know over the next three to four weeks…” during a St Patrick’s Day reception in the White House.
He added that Chinese partners have been “very responsible and very reasonable. If that one gets done, it will be something that people will be talking about for a long time…”.
Since July 6th, the world’s two biggest economies have been entrenched in a trade war – affecting the whole international trade and economic community. For now, both sides have agreed to suspend additional tariffs after holding several round-talks.
So far, details of the potential trade deal are yet to be finalised as such trade deal mechanisms and the reform of state-owned enterprises may be key issues standing in the way of concluding an agreement.
After a US Senate finance committee hearing, Trade Representative Mnuchin said that both countries are “working in good faith” to try to reach a deal “as quickly as possible”. Yet, it is clear that President Trump and his Chinese counterpart, President Xi Jinping will not seal a trade agreement before the end of March.
“There’s still a lot of work to do, but we’re very comfortable with where we are,” Mnuchin said. “I don’t think there’s anything significantly different on the currency issue from where we were last time.”
He also said that elements of the discussions will be resolved soon as the US and China work seriously on over a 150-page-long document.
US Network CNBC reported on Thursday that Chinese negotiators had proposed combining a long-discussed state visit by President Xi to the US with the announcement of any potential trade agreement. According to the report, the state visit had been under discussion since last year.
In such a case, Xi’s state visit would reciprocate President Trump’s November 2017 visit to Beijing.