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White House says US-China talks making progress

Washington

TRADE talks between the United States and China made "good headway" last week in Beijing and the two sides aim to bridge differences during talks that could extend beyond three days this week, White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow said.

Mr Kudlow, speaking to reporters on Wednesday at an event organised by the Christian Science Monitor, said China had recognised problems for the first time during the talks that the US has raised for years.

Negotiations continued in Washington on Wednesday after meetings last week in Beijing, spearheaded by US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.

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US President Donald Trump was scheduled to meet Vice-Premier Liu He, who is leading the Chinese side in the talks, in the Oval Office at 4.30pm on Thursday (Friday 4.30am, Singapore time), the White House said.

A date for a meeting between Mr Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping could be announced as early as Thursday, Bloomberg and the Wall Street Journal reported, citing unidentified sources, which would signal that a deal could be close. But the WSJ, citing an administration official, said discussions remained fluid and those plans could change.

The US and China have levied tariffs on hundreds of billions of dollars' worth of two-way trade since July 2018. Mr Trump has said he wants a "great deal" with China and has hinted that tariffs could remain in place for some time.

Chinese commitments to increase purchases of American agricultural, energy and manufactured products are expected to be part of a final deal, and a person familiar with the talks said China would get about six years to meet those commitments, or until 2025. The deadline was reported earlier by Bloomberg, but Trump administration officials previously said that a six-year timeline for purchases exceeding US$1 trillion had been under discussion.

A final number for the amount of purchases has not been settled, the person said.

Mr Kudlow said Mr Liu and his team would remain in Washington for three days and possibly longer. "We're covering issues that have never really been covered before, including enforcement," Mr Kudlow said, listing US accusations that Beijing engages in intellectual property theft, forced transfer of technology from US companies doing business in China, cyber hacking, tariffs and non-tariff barriers for commodity trading. REUTERS