BEIJING — China said Thursday its trade representatives will fly to Washington in early October to resume negotiations with the United States, raising the possibility that both sides might arrest a recent deterioration in the bilateral relationship that has cast a shadow over the world economy.
China’s top trade negotiator, Vice Premier Liu He, agreed to the October visit in a phone call with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and U.S. Trade Representative Robert E. Lighthizer, China’s Commerce Ministry said in a statement. It added that “serious” mid-level discussions will begin in mid-September to prepare for the October visit.
The announcement marks the first sign that talks are getting back on track after both governments raised tariffs last month and engaged in a rhetorical back-and-forth that underscored the adversarial mood settling over the two capitals on issues extending well beyond trade. At one point, President Trump ordered American companies to leave China.
Wall Street was buoyant after the meeting was confirmed, with the Dow Jones industrial average futures calling for a 250-point jump at open Thursday. But after more than a year of stutter-step progress and constant volatility, it’s unlikely investors will have much faith in negotiations if some mechanisms of the trade war aren’t dismantled.
“The US is set to turn up the tariff pressure again on October 1st and if we don’t see that threat taken off, markets will be skeptical that the October meeting [will] likely not see anything meaningful happen and that the trade war will not be resolved until after the 2020 US Presidential election,” Ed Moya, an analyst with OANDA, wrote in a note to investors Thursday.
The October talks — the 13th round of dialogue — were previously scheduled for September. Chinese officials in recent weeks have suggested that lower-level discussions with Washington were continuing even while Trump has fumed on Twitter about China’s behavior and threatened “much tougher” actions. New tariffs from both sides went into effect Sunday.
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