US trade negotiators to visit China on March 28-29: Beijing

22 March, 2019 12:00 AM printer

BEIJING: Senior US officials will visit Beijing for a new round of trade war talks on Mar 28-29, followed by a trip to the United States by China's top negotiator in April, the Chinese commerce ministry said Thursday.

The back-to-back trips come as Washington and Beijing battle over the final shape of a trade deal, with American officials demanding profound changes to Chinese industrial policy, reports AFP.

US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin are returning to the Chinese capital next week, commerce ministry spokesman Gao Feng said at a weekly briefing.

After their visit, Chinese Vice Premier Liu He will head to the United States in April to continue the negotiations, Gao said.

President Donald Trump warned Wednesday that US tariffs on Chinese imports could remain in place for a "substantial period", dampening hopes that an agreement would see them lifted soon.

Over the last eight months, the United States and China have slapped tariffs on more than $360 billion in two-way goods trade, weighing on the manufacturing sectors in both countries.

On Friday, China's rubber-stamp parliament approved a foreign investment law to strengthen protections for intellectual property - a central US grievance - but critics said the bill was rammed through without sufficient time for input from businesses.

The law was adopted barely three months after a first draft was debated, an unusually quick turnaround for the legislature, which meets once a year.

Beijing has also expressed willingness to increase purchases of American commodities such as energy and soybeans.

But analysts say Chinese officials will be reluctant to accede to demands that could weaken the Communist Party's hold on power - such as fully exposing state enterprises to market forces.