China’s top economic official will visit Washington next week to continue trade discussions, the White House said Monday, as threatened tariffs on billions of dollars of goods could be imposed this month.
The visit by Vice Premier Liu He — considered President Xi Jinping’s right-hand man on economic issues — comes after he led talks in Beijing last week with a high-level US delegation that made little headway in resolving the standoff.
The meetings come after a series of tit-for-tat threats of tariffs on billions of dollars of goods sparked earlier this year by Donald Trump, who accuses China of using unfair practices to get an unfair advantage over US exporters and costing American jobs.
“China’s top economic advisor, the vice premier, will be coming here next week to continue the discussions with the President’s economic team,” said White House press secretary Sarah Sanders.
“The president has a great relationship with President Xi,” Sanders said. “And we are working on something that we think will be great for everybody.”
The negotiations could head off the threatened US tariffs targeting $150 billion in imports from, while China has warned $50 billion in goods are in the firing line. Some of the US measures are due to take effect before the end of May.
However, China said “big differences” remained between the two sides after last week’s talks while leaks of the negotiating positions showed both were digging in with hardline demands.
The row has fuelled worries about a trade war between the economic superpowers that has the potential to hammer the global economy.