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China says working with US day and night to get trade deal

File photo of Chinese President Xi Jiping. Photograph:( Reuters )

Reuters Beijing, China Mar 09, 2019, 01.02 PM (IST)

China and the United States are still working day and night to achieve a trade deal that matches the interests of both sides and the hopes of the world, including eliminating tit-for-tat tariffs, a senior Chinese official said on Saturday.

Chinese Vice Commerce Minister Wang Shouwen said he was optimistic about negotiations with Washington, but added any trade mechanism achieved must be equal and fair.

The governments of the world's two largest economies have been locked in a tariff battle for months as Washington presses Beijing to address long-standing concerns over Chinese practices and policies around industrial subsidies, technology transfers, market access and intellectual property rights.

Advances in talks drove the White House to indefinitely delay hikes in tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese imports that were set to kick in on March 2.

Wang, speaking at a news conference on the sidelines of China's ongoing annual meeting of parliament, said slapping tariffs on each other was bad for workers, farmers, exporters and manufacturers.

"It hurts investor confidence and delays corporate investment decisions," said Wang, who has been deeply involved in the trade talks with the United States.

"Now, the economic and trade teams of the two sides are making full efforts to communicate and negotiate in order to reach an agreement in line with the principles and directions decided by the two heads of states," he added.

"That is to remove all the tariffs imposed on each other so that bilateral trade relations between China and the United States can return to normal."The trade talks have seen senior officials shuttling backwards and forwards between Beijing and Washington.

Giving rare details into the talks, Wang said the two countries had been making extra effort to find areas in common. During the talks Vice Premier Liu He and U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer enjoyed take out food, he said.

"Vice Premier Liu had a hamburger, and Lighthizer had eggplant and chicken," he added, describing a common Chinese dish.

"Throughout the negotiations, there was coffee and tea, but the two of them did not drink any coffee, did not drink any tea. They both drank hot boiled water. This is to find common ground."

It is unclear when or where senior negotiators from both sides will next meet.

Trump administration officials have not made any new plans to send a team to China for face-to-face trade talks though there is much work left to be done to reach a deal, White House trade adviser Clete Willems said on Friday.

Story highlights

Chinese Vice Commerce Minister Wang Shouwen said he was optimistic about negotiations with Washington, but added any trade mechanism achieved must be equal and fair.