Top trade negotiators from China and the United States held a telephone conversation on Tuesday morning, discussing their core concerns and agreeing to maintain communication on a potential interim trade agreement, China’s commerce ministry said.
Liu He, China’s Vice-Premier and lead negotiator in the trade talks, and the US’ Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, “discussed how to address respective core concerns, reached consensus on solving related problems, and agreed to keep communication for the remaining matters in the ‘phase one’ trade negotiations”, the ministry said in a statement.
Liu had last talked to his US counterparts 10 days earlier, when they had “constructive discussions” on core issues, according to China’s official media reports.
Global Times, a nationalist tabloid published under the auspices of Communist Party mouthpiece People’s Daily, reported on Monday that the two countries were “moving closer” to agreement on a phase one trade deal. Among the details being discussed was the issue of removal of tariffs.
.The latest phone call took place a day after China summoned Terry Branstad , the US ambassador to Beijing, to protest about the passage through the US Congress of the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act – China’s third such move in less than a week.
Chinese Foreign Vice-Minister Zheng Zeguang “lodged solemn representations” with Branstad over the advancement of the US legislation, the foreign ministry said in a statement earlier on Tuesday.