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Trade war: China, U.S. likely to hold next round of talks

BEIJING (Agencies): China said on Thursday it will hold a fresh round of trade talks with the United States in Washington later this month, offering a glimmer of hope for progress in resolving a conflict that has set world markets on edge.

A Chinese delegation led by Vice Minister of Commerce Wang Shouwen will meet with U.S. representatives led by Under Secretary of Treasury for International Affairs David Malpass, the Ministry of Commerce said in a statement on its website.

The world’s two largest economies have implemented several rounds of tit-for-tat tariffs on each other’s goods since the start of the year and have threatened further tariffs on exports worth hundreds of billions of dollars.

The announcement of the forthcoming meeting comes after a lull in talks between the two sides, but it is unclear whether it will take place before or after Aug.23 when Washington is due to activate additional tariffs on $16 billion of Chinese goods. Beijing has said it will retaliate in kind.

The last official round of talks was in early June when U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross met Chinese Vice Premier Liu He in Beijing.

There was no immediate response from the U.S. Treasury to the announcement from Beijing.

The upcoming meeting is lower-level compared with four previous rounds of talks that involved Liu, Ross and U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.

Having made little progress in the previous meetings, the White House said on Aug. 3 that the United States is open to further talks with China on how to resolve the festering trade dispute.

China has repeatedly pointed out that U.S. companies and consumers will be hard hit by the trade war, a theme the ruling Communist Party’s official People’s Daily returned to on Thursday.

U.S. President Donald Trump’s “America First” slogan had caused only economic trouble for the country, the paper said, pointing to examples like losses incurred by U.S. soybean farmers amid the trade war.

“What’s fantastical is that U.S. trade policy-makers seem to be totally deaf. The voices of producers, the international community and expert groups have been pouring forth, but they’re turning a deaf ear to them,” it said in a commentary.

The news of the upcoming talks helped Chinese stocks pare losses, with the Shanghai Composite Index and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index both down 0.4 percent, having fallen as much as 1.9 percent and 1.7 percent, respectively, in early trading on Thursday.

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