Report: US, China reach agreement to resume economic talks

A published report says the United States and China have agreed to resume semiannual talks on economic and trade issues

WASHINGTON -- The United States and China have agreed to resume semiannual talks on economic and trade issues, according to a published report. These discussions had been conducted in previous administrations but had been halted by the Trump administration.

The Wall Street Journal reported Saturday that the resumption of the talks, which were started in the George W. Bush administration and continued in the Obama administration, was set to be announced on Wednesday when the Trump administration signs a Phase One trade agreement with China in Washington.

The newspaper said that the new talks would be separate from negotiations over a Phase Two trade deal, which will cover a number of contentious issues involving Chinese policies that the Trump administration contends are unfair trade practices but were not resolved in the Phase One negotiations.

Henry Paulson had started the US-China talks when he was Treasury secretary under George W. Bush with top officials from both countries meeting twice a year. The discussions were continued during all eight years of the Obama administration although the talks were reduced to just once a year.

When President Donald Trump took office in 2017, his administration halted the discussions, feeling they had failed to achieve significant results in tackling unfair Chinese trade practices and reducing America’s huge trade deficits with China, the largest with any country.

The Trump administration instead launched more targeted trade negotiations, which ended up triggering a tit-for-tat trade war between the world’s two biggest economies. Both countries imposed billions of dollars of tariffs on the other country’s products.

Those tariffs raised uncertainties among businesses, slowed global economic growth and roiled financial markets. Both countries announced a Phase One agreement resolving some of the issues between in December as part of a cease-fire in the trade war.

Administration officials said that the details of the Phase One deal would be released after the agreement is signed Wednesday.