The United States and China have reportedly made no progress on key issues in deputy-level trade talks aimed at resolving a protracted trade dispute between the world’s two largest economies.
The South China Morning Post (SCMP), citing unnamed sources with knowledge of the meetings, said on Thursday that the bilateral trade talks held on the deputy level on Monday and Tuesday in Washington had “failed to yield any progress on critical issues.”
The Hong Kong-based paper said the deputy-level negotiations only revolved around two issue, namely agricultural purchases and intellectual property protection, and fell short of focusing on forced technology transfers, which is a bone of contention between the US and China.
One of the sources added that the talks had also skirted the issue of state subsidies, which Washington claims give Chinese companies an unfair advantage over international competitors.
The SCMP further said the Chinese side had not made headway in persuading US negotiators to consider a freeze on tariff hikes, which is a main priority for Beijing.
The Chinese delegation, headed by Vice Premier Liu He, plans to leave Washington on Thursday after just one day of minister-level meetings, the paper said, adding that the departure had earlier been planned for late on Friday.
The meetings were meant to lay the groundwork for high-level negotiations set to begin on Thursday, which are the first minister-level meetings in more than two months.
For more than a year, Washington and Beijing have been engaged in a trade war over issues such as cyber security, regulations, intellectual property, subsidies, and tariffs.
The administration of US President Donald Trump launched the trade war with China last year, when it first imposed unusually heavy tariffs on imports from the Asian country. Since then, the two sides have exchanged tariffs on more than 360 billion dollars in two-way trade.
The US says a primary goal of the aggressive tariff strategy is to decrease the trade imbalance with China, which totaled 379 billion dollars in 2018.
Tariffs on 250 billion dollars’ worth of Chinese goods are set to increase from 25 to 30 percent next week, while fresh duties of 15 percent on 160 billion dollars of largely consumer products will take effect on December 15.
Trump has also launched trade wars with other US trading partners, including Canada, Mexico, and the EU.
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