05:15 GMT12 May 2021
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    Us Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and his Chinese counterpart, Vice Premier Liu He held a phone conversation on Friday on the details of the possible future trade deal.

    The two spoke by telephone discussing the US demand that China put forward a concrete offer before the official negotiations start, people familiar with the matter told the Wall Street Journal. However, according to the sources, Chinese officials are resisting, saying they would like to talk before making any formal proposals, worrying that they might lose leverage. 

    READ MORE: Senior Chinese Diplomat Says US, China Must Resolve Trade Disputes Through Talks

    The Friday conversation didn’t lead to any breakthroughs; however, it signalled renewed discussions and serves as a sign that the two sides are trying to reach an agreement, the officials said.

    Some US officials cited by the WSJ who took a hard line position on the Chinese trade war said that they believe China will make an offer before Chinese President Xi Jinping and US President Donald Trump meet at the Group of 20 nations summit in Buenos Aires. They're considering the possibility that the US and China might be able to reach a ceasefire in the ongoing trade war, with the US refraining from increasing tariffs, which could be followed by detailed negotiations.

    Both sides are reportedly planning to use the upcoming G-20 summit for the starting point rather than negotiations. Xi Jinping has requested that different cabinet ministries come up with specific expectations, to keep the talks going after the summit concludes. According to the WSJ, China expects to form a broad framework for the possible deal, which would be followed by negotiations on the details.

    The leaders of the world's two largest national economies held a phone conversation earlier in November, which President Trump called “long and very good”. He said that these discussions are a precursor to meetings scheduled to take place during the G-20. 

    Bloomberg reported in October that the US is preparing to slap tariffs on all remaining Chinese imports by December if talks between Trump and Xi at the G-20 don't result in any positive outcome with respect to trade negotiations.

    Washington has already imposed $250 billion worth tariffs on Chinese imports, to which Beijing has responded with $110 billion in retaliatory duties. Out of these tariffs, $200 billion of goods are set to increase from 10% to 25% on January 1 if Trump decides to do so.


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