US, Chinese trade war envoys talk; no sign of negotiations

Chinese Vice Premier Liu He (L) and US Trade Representative Katherine Tai (R)

US and Chinese trade envoys talked by phone Thursday for the first time since President Joe Biden took office, but the two sides gave no sign when negotiations on ending their tariff war might restart, AP reports.

US Trade Representative Katherine Tai discussed her “ongoing review” of the trade relationship, her office said in a statement. The Chinese Commerce Ministry said Vice Premier Liu. He raised “issues of common concern” but gave no details.

Biden has yet to say what approach he will take to the conflict launched by former President Donald Trump, who raised tariffs on Chinese imports over complaints about Beijing’s industrial policy and trade surplus. China retaliated by suspending purchases of US soybeans and raising tariffs on other goods.

Negotiators haven’t met in person since before the coronavirus pandemic began in early 2020. Lower-level officials hold monthly meetings by phone on the status of carrying out the “Phase 1” agreement from early 2019 aimed at ending the conflict.

The two sides agreed in the “Phase 1” deal to suspend further tariff hikes on each other’s goods and to roll some back. China promised to buy more American soybeans and other exports. Beijing fell behind on meeting that commitment after the pandemic disrupted global trade.

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