China, US agree to create good conditions for meetings; teams to begin preparations
China and the United States agreed to hold the 13th round of their high-level economic and trade consultations next month in Washington, representing a fresh attempt to bridge their differences and make "substantial" progress, according to the Ministry of Commerce and analysts.
Upon an invitation from the US, Vice-Premier Liu He had a phone conversation with US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin on Thursday morning, the ministry said in a statement.
The two parties agreed to take concrete actions to create favorable conditions for bilateral consultations, the ministry said.
Commerce Minister Zhong Shan, Governor of the People's Bank of China Yi Gang and Ning Jizhe, deputy director of the National Development and Reform Commission, also participated in the conversation.
Gao Feng, a spokesman for the Ministry of Commerce, told reporters later on Thursday in Beijing that the two sides had a good conversation and will "strive to make substantial progress".
The ministry added that working teams from the two countries will conduct serious discussions in mid-September to prepare for the next meeting, which had originally been planned for this month.
A spokesman for the US Trade Representative's office said in an emailed statement that deputy-level meetings will take place to lay the groundwork for meaningful progress, Reuters reported.
Yang Weiyong, an economics professor at the University of International Business and Economics in Beijing, said China and the US, as the world's two largest economies, should build stronger mutual trust and understanding to advance future talks.
"Calm and rational" minds are needed to resolve remaining issues and achieve progress, Yang said.
Since the last round of consultations in Shanghai in late July, it has taken more than a month for negotiating teams from the two nations to decide on the next meeting.
On Sunday, part of new additional tariffs recently announced by Washington on $300 billion worth of Chinese goods came into force. China took countermeasures on the same day, before lodging a complaint against the US under the World Trade Organization's dispute settlement mechanism.
Gao said China has not considered withdrawing the complaint against the latest tariff move.
He said the US tariff measures targeting Chinese imports seriously violate the rules of free trade and the multilateral trading system. China's complaint against the US at the WTO is a bid to protect its legitimate rights and interests, and to defend the multilateral trading system, he added.