Trade talks with China 'made headway', says US envoy

Trade talks with China 'made headway', says US envoy
Chinese President Xi Jinping, center, meets with U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, fifth from left, US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, fourth from left, and delegations from both countries at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing today. Pic: AP

US-Chinese talks on a war of wills over Beijing's technology ambitions have "made headway" on important issues, the chief American envoy said, but he gave no indication whether Washington would postpone a looming tariff hike.

Robert Lighthizer expressed optimism but gave no details of the two days of negotiations. Economists said they were too brief to resolve the tariff fight that threatens to chill weakening global economic growth.

"We feel we have made headway on very, very important and difficult issues," Mr Lighthizer told Chinese President Xi Jinping in a meeting after the talks ended.

"We have additional work we have to do but we are hopeful."

Mr Xi said Beijing and Washington "share broad mutual interests" in promoting global economic prosperity and stability.

"We shoulder important responsibilities," the Chinese leader said.

There was no indication whether the talks made progress on the thorniest dispute: US pressure on Beijing to scale back plans for government-led creation of Chinese global leaders in robotics and other technologies.

US and Chinese negotiators will meet again next week in Washington, the official Xinhua news agency said.

President Donald Trump had made "no decision" on the tariff hike set for March 2, his adviser Larry Kudlow told reporters on Thursday in Washington.

The president said on Tuesday that he might let the deadline "slide for a little while" if the talks went well.

Washington, Europe, Japan and other governments say Beijing's industry plans violate its market-opening obligations. Some American officials worry they might erode US industrial leadership.

Mr Trump raised tariffs in July over complaints that Beijing steals or pressures companies to hand over technology.

The dispute has spread to cover cyber-spying traced to China, the country's multibillion-dollar trade surplus with the US and support for state industry.

Beijing has offered to narrow its trade surplus by purchasing more American soybeans, natural gas and other exports, but has resisted pressure to cut back development plans it sees as a path to prosperity and global influence.

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