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.
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.
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.
Just had a long and very good conversation with President Xi Jinping of China. We talked about many subjects, with a heavy emphasis on Trade. Those discussions are moving along nicely with meetings being scheduled at the G-20 in Argentina. Also had good discussion on North Korea!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) 1 ноября 2018 г.
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.