'Important progress' made in trade talks with US: China

Is This the End of the WTO as We Know It

But Trump has vetoed multiple proposed trade deals with China, choosing to push ahead with tariffs on Chinese goods to gain leverage.

Last year, the Washington and Beijing imposed tariffs on more than $360 billion in two-way trade in a bruising war that has spooked markets worldwide.

The move prompted China to increase tariffs on Dollars 110 billion of American goods.

The slow pace of talks and mountain of issues remaining to be agreed sets up what could be a tense countdown to the March 1 deadline, with a personal meeting between Trump and Xi looming as perhaps the only way to bridge some gaps.

During the two-day talks which ended here on Thursday, US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer led the US delegation while Vice Premier Liu He headed the Chinese side.

In a statement, the White House didn't list any new commitments by either side, saying only that progress had been made and "much work remains to be done".

The administration said it would keep a "hard deadline" of March 2, at which point it would escalate import taxes on Dollars 200 billion in Chinese good if there was no deal. "But we're in a place that if things work out, it could happen", Lighthizer said at the Oval Office meeting. But people familiar with the discussions say the U.S. side itself has yet to agree internally on what the right mechanism to enforce any agreement would be. He said that it is either going to be a very big deal or it is going to be a deal that they'll just postpone for a little while.

"It doesn't mean you have a deal, but I can say there is a tremendous relationship and warm feeling". "I hope we'll keep close contact in various ways. I think when President Xi and myself meet, every point will be agreed to", Trump said.

A little over three years ago, Beijing launched a strategic plan dubbed "Made in China 2025" that aimed to make the nation the global leader in aerospace, robotics, artificial intelligence, new-generation autos and other areas - sectors United States officials say now represent the "crown jewels" of American technology and innovation.

After the message from the Chinese president was read out at the meeting with Vice President Liu, US leader Trump said: "That's a handsome letter and we appreciate it".

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The two sides made important progress during talks that were candid, specific, and fruitful, according to a statement published by China's Xinhua News Agency on Friday.

China also vowed to increase cooperation on a major source of USA discontent: intellectual property protection and concerns over the forced transfer of technology.

China is facing the daunting task of presenting a credible plan to meet Trump's demands to cut down the United States dollars 375 billion trade deficit.

Lighthizer told reporters on Thursday that the two sides had engaged in an intense and detailed discussion focused largely on United States demands for Chinese structural reforms this week.

"The two sides established a consensus in principle for an implementation mechanism framework", Xinhua said, adding without elaborating that the United States had agreed to "earnestly respond to China's concerns". One possibility would be for a meeting with Xi after the US president's planned summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in late February.

Trump described it as a "beautiful" letter.

A worker operates a forklift to carry boxes through the warehouse of the Black & Decker DeWalt brand production plant in Charlotte, North Carolina, US, on Wednesday, Aug 9, 2017. "Both countries would like to see a positive result", he added.

An administration official later clarified the amount as a total of 5 million tonnes, effectively doubling the amount bought by China since resuming limited purchases in December.

The United States has been pressuring China to end its requirements for US companies in forming joint ventures with its Chinese firms.

Trump had, on January 31, tweeted that "No final deal will be made until my friend President Xi, and I, meet in the near future to discuss and agree on some of the long-standing and more hard points", indicating that a deal would have to be made by March 1, when the USA is slated to increase tariffs on Chinese imports to 25 per cent.

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