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China trade envoy, US Treasury secretary meet by video

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China’s chief economic envoy and Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen held their first meeting by video Wednesday, but the two sides gave no indication when negotiations on ending their tariff war might resume.

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Vice Premier Liu He and Yellen discussed the economic situation, bilateral cooperation and other “issues of mutual concern,” the Commerce Ministry said. Yellen’s department said she also discussed “frankly tackling issues of concern.” They gave no details.

President Joe Biden, who took office in January, has yet to say how he will handle the conflict launched by his predecessor, Donald Trump, who raised tariffs on imports from China over complaints about its industrial policy and trade surplus. Beijing retaliated by suspending purchases of US soybeans and raising tariffs on other goods.

Liu talked by phone last week with Trade Representative Katherine Tai, the head of the US delegation to the tariff talks. Tai’s office said she discussed her “ongoing review” of the trade relationship.

Negotiators haven’t met in person since before the coronavirus pandemic began in early 2020. Lower-level officials hold monthly meetings by phone on the status of carrying out the “Phase 1” agreement from early 2019 aimed at ending the conflict.

The two sides agreed in the “Phase 1” deal to suspend further tariff hikes on each other’s goods and to roll some back. China promised to buy more American soybeans and other exports. Beijing fell behind on meeting that commitment after the pandemic disrupted global trade.

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