White House: Next round of US-China trade talks set

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US officials will be in Beijing February 14-15 for the third round of talks aimed at heading off an escalation of the ongoing trade war with China, the White House announced on Friday.

Negotiators are working towards an agreement before the 90-day tariff truce expires March 1, after which the US is set to more than double punitive duties on $200 billion in Chinese goods.

US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin will lead the delegation, which also includes David Malpass, who President Donald Trump has nominated to be president of the World Bank, according to the statement.

However, strident White House China critic Peter Navarro was not listed as part of the US team.

While officials seemed optimistic after talks last week in Washington, more recent comments have jarred financial markets, amplifying concerns about how the dispute will impact global growth.

US President Donald Trump said Thursday he did not expect to meet his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping before a March 1 deadline for the two economic superpowers to reach a deal.

Trump had said final resolution of the trade dispute would depend on the meeting with Xi “in the near future,” but told reporters it had not yet been arranged.

And top White House economist Larry Kudlow said Thursday that while Trump was “optimistic” about prospects for a deal, there remained a “sizeable distance” separating the two sides.

Washington is demanding far-reaching changes from China to address unfair practices it says are deeply unfair, including theft of American intellectual property and the massive Chinese trade surplus.

The White House said there will be a preparatory meeting of senior officials beginning February 11, and the talks will include officials from the Agriculture, Energy and Commerce Departments.