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China says US trade agreement not yet settled

Beijing

CHINA said on Thursday there is "still much work to finish" on the text of a trade agreement with the United States.

US President Donald Trump on Wednesday held out hope the current trade talks with China will be a success, and said an announcement on the status was due "shortly".

The Wall Street Journal reported that US negotiators would return to Beijing at the end of the month.

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Gao Feng, a spokesman for China's commerce ministry, declined to answer when asked about the next round of trade talks at a regular press briefing.

"Recently negotiations on the text of the China-US economic and trade agreement have continued to make new progress but there is still much work to finish," Mr Gao said. "Both sides will continue to keep in close contact through various effective channels," he told reporters.

Bloomberg reported that US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin plan to travel to Beijing the week of April 29, according to the people.

The next week Chinese Vice Premier Liu He will come to Washington for negotiations. During his visit, officials want to announce the sides have struck a deal and details of a signing summit, probably set for late May, they said. A spokeswoman for Mr Lighthizer declined to comment on the trip.

The WSJ reported US and Chinese officials are tentatively working toward a signing ceremony for the trade agreement as soon as late May.

During shuttle diplomacy in recent months, US and Chinese officials have alternated between projecting optimism and warning that success in their high-stakes talks is not guaranteed.

But a key US demand - a binding enforcement mechanism to prevent Beijing from backsliding on its commitments - has been virtually agreed, Mr Mnuchin said this month. AFP, BLOOMBERG