Chinese government confirms invite, only two weeks after Donald Trump said it was not the right time and a week after his latest US$200 billion tariffs threat
China and the United States moved closer on Thursday to resuming high-level trade negotiations, in a promising sign that the rapid escalation of their trade war could be slowed or even halted.
However, it was unclear whether either side was willing to offer sufficient concessions to end the dispute.
The Chinese government said on Thursday that it had been invited by the US to hold trade talks and welcomed Washington’s gesture.
Gao Feng, a spokesman with China’s Ministry of Commerce, told a regular press conference that Beijing had received the invitation and the two sides were discussing details. “An escalating trade war is not beneficial to either of the two nations,” Gao said.
The US government had on Wednesday proposed a new round of high-level trade talks with Beijing aimed at halting further escalation of the trade war that started in July, according to The Wall Street Journal and Bloomberg.
US treasury secretary Steven Mnuchin has invited his Chinese counterpart, vice-premier Liu He – President Xi Jinping’s top economic adviser – for negotiations “in the coming weeks”, according to the Journal.
The timing of the US invitation was something of a surprise. Less than two weeks ago, US President Donald Trump said it was not yet the right time to talk to China about resolving the trade dispute.
US proposing new round of trade talks with China in near future
Mnuchin himself said the next day that talks with China were the third priority for the White House, behind talks on an updated North American Free Trade Agreement with Mexico and Canada, and talks with the European Union on a new trade deal.
Many observers had expected there would be no further trade talks until after the US Congressional midterm elections, to be held on November 6.