High-level China-US talks in October

China firmly opposes escalating the trade war, which harms China, the United States and the whole world.

China and the United States on Thursday agreed to hold high-level trade talks in early October in Washington, amid fears that an escalating trade war could trigger a global economic recession.

Chinese Vice Premier Liu He had a phone conversation with US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin yesterday, at the invitation of the US side, China’s commerce ministry said on its website.

People who also joined the phone conversation were Chinese Commerce Minister Zhong Shan, People’s Bank of China Governor Yi Gang, and deputy head of the National Development and Reform Commission Ning Jizhe.

The two sides agreed to jointly take concrete actions to create favorable conditions for subsequent consultations, MOC spokesman Gao Feng told a press conference. Working groups of the two sides will conduct consultations in earnest in mid-September to make full preparations for the high-level talks to achieve substantial progress, he said.

China firmly opposes escalating the trade war, which harms China, the United States and the whole world, Gao said.

A spokesman for the US Trade Representative’s office confirmed that Lighthizer and Mnuchin spoke with Liu and said they agreed to hold ministerial-level trade talks in Washington “in the coming weeks.”

News of the early October talks lifted most Asian share markets yesterday, raising hopes these can de-escalate the US-China trade war before it inflicts further damage on the global economy. China’s main stock market index was up 1.6 percent at midday following the announcement. Tokyo’s Nikkei 225 gained 2.3 percent and South Korea’s main index rose 1 percent.

On Sunday, Washington began imposing 15 percent tariffs on an array of Chinese imports, while China began placing duties on US crude oil. The United States plans to increase the tariff rate to 30 percent from the 25 percent duty already in place on US$250 billion worth of Chinese imports from October 1.

The US and China have raised tariffs on billions of dollars of each other’s imports, disrupting trade in goods from soybeans to medical equipment and battering traders on both sides.

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