A senior Chinese negotiator will visit the United States at Washington’s invitation late this month to resume trade talks, the Ministry of Commerce said on Aug 16.
It will be the first bilateral meeting since the Sino-US trade dispute escalated in June, attracting lots of attention and high expectations.
On the invitation of the US, a delegation led by Wang Shouwen, vice-minister of commerce and China’s deputy international trade representative, will meet with a team led by the US Treasury’s Undersecretary for International Affairs David Malpass, the ministry said in a statement.
The two sides will hold consultations on each other’s concerns about Sino-US economic and trade issues, the ministry said.
“The Chinese side opposes unilateralism and trade protectionism practices and does not accept any unilateral trade restriction measures,” said the statement.
“China welcomes dialogue and communication on the basis of reciprocity, equality and integrity.”
Beijing has retaliated after Washington slapped tariffs in goods since they held their last high-level meeting in June. The tension raised fears that their trade dispute will shake the global economy.
It was unclear whether the talks will take place before or after Aug 16, when Washington has said it will activate additional tariffs on $16 billion in Chinese goods. Beijing has said it will retaliate in kind.
At the last official round of talks in early June, US Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross met with Vice-Premier Liu He in Beijing.
Experts said Wang’s visit to the US is expected to be helpful not only in reducing misunderstanding between the two governments but also in offering hope for progress in lessening the friction that has set global markets on edge.
Li Yong, deputy director of the China Association of International Trade Expert Committee, said conducting the vice-ministerial level meeting means the two sides will talk about many specific issues, such as how to increase imports from each other’s markets in different sectors and build a solid foundation for higher-level official meetings.
“As the bilateral trade friction has affected global value and supply chains, as well as many countries’ financial markets, it is time for both sides to talk about what they can offer to temporarily avoid a global economic slowdown and an escalation of the trade war,” he said.
Makoto Sengoku, a market analyst at Tokai Tokyo Research Institute, told AFP: “It is hard to tell how the talks will go, but it’s a positive signal that the two countries are looking for some compromise plan. If they were determined to fight it out, they wouldn’t meet.”
US trade policy toward China has been fairly self-contradictory, which reflects the gap of interests between different government branches, said Dong Yan, a senior researcher at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.
“As you can see from the previous talks, the US Treasury Department still wanted a negotiated settlement because it sought a sustainable China-US economic relationship, while the Office of the US Trade Representative has been playing tougher with Chinese shipments,” she said.
Dong said there have been some impacts on the real economy in the United States as tariffs have been enacted in the past two months. This has caused opinion disparities among different government departments, multinational companies and business groups within the US, she said.