US Treasury's Mnuchin, China Vice-Premier Liu resume trade dispute discussions over phone

WASHINGTON (REUTERS) – US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin has resumed discussions with China Vice-Premier Liu He, with the two speaking by telephone on Friday (Nov 9), the Wall Street Journal reported on Monday, citing sources.

The conversation did not lead to any breakthrough to resolve the tariff dispute between the world’s two largest economies, the WSJ reported.

A US Treasury spokesman did not immediately respond to a query about the report.

The development comes as China President Xi Jinping and US President Donald Trump plan to meet on the sidelines of a G-20 summit that is being held in Argentina at the end of November and early December.

Earlier this month, after a phone conversation with Mr Xi, Mr Trump said he thought the United States would make a deal with China on trade but stood ready to levy more tariffs on Chinese goods if no progress is made.

Mr Trump has imposed tariffs on US$250 billion (S$345.96 billion) of Chinese goods to pressure Beijing to stop intellectual property theft and forced technology transfers, improve market access for US firms and cut China’s high-tech industrial subsidy programme – major shifts away from China’s state-led economic model.

The tariff rate on US$200 billion in Chinese goods is set to increase to 25 per cent from 10 per cent on Jan 1.

Mr Trump has also threatened to impose tariffs on all remaining Chinese imports, about US$267 billion worth, if China fails to address US demands.

Mr Mnuchin in October said that China needed to identify concrete “action items” to re-balance the two countries’ trade relationship before talks to resolve their disputes could resume.

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