US official Lighthizer arrives in China ahead of trade talks

US official Lighthizer arrives in China ahead of trade talks

US official Lighthizer arrives in China ahead of trade talks

The South China Morning Post (SCMP) reports the latest comments from unnamed sources, as they cite that the Chinese President Xi Jinping will meet with the US Trade Representative Lighthizer and US Treasury Secretary Mnuchin on Friday.

The world's two largest economies are trying to hammer out a deal before a March 1 deadline, after which USA tariffs on US$200 billion worth of Chinese imports are scheduled to increase to 25 percent from 10 percent. And top White House economist Larry Kudlow said Thursday that while Trump was "optimistic" about prospects for a deal, there remained a "sizable distance" separating the two sides. But the two sides are only just starting the work of drafting a common document and are still tussling over how a deal may be enforced, which US officials have repeatedly called a crucial element. Last week, Trump said that he would not meet Xi before the deadline, but further planning for a summit had not been reported. However, amid pressure from the business community for the two sides to resolve the dispute, CNBC cited a senior administration official saying the March 1 deadline could be pushed back.

"If we're close to a deal where we think we can make a real deal and it's going to get done, I could see myself letting that slide for a little while", Trump said of the deadline at a White House cabinet meeting.

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Negotiators from the two countries are meeting this week in Beijing, with US officials pressing China to commit to deeper reforms to a state-driven economic model that they say hurts American companies.

The last round of talks in Washington late last month resulted in China importing American soybeans as it implemented promises to buy more US goods. According to a White House official, the delegates were preparing to focus more on pressing Beijing to gain a structural reform in China's business policy for the U.S. firms. "And, absolutely, you know, we've put everything on the table, including IP theft and forced technology transfer and so on".

Both the Chinese government and Huawei have dismissed these concerns.

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