The first round of comprehensive trade talks between the US and China since the countries declared a tentative ceasefire late last year is set to continue for a third day, both sides confirmed on Tuesday.
The negotiations, which were originally scheduled to last just two days, mark the first time that large mid-level trade delegations have met to hash out specifics of a potential deal since the Trump administration first slapped tariffs on Chinese goods.
Chinese Vice-Premier Liu He – who has served as the top Chinese official for previous rounds of negotiations – made an appearance at the talks on Monday, seen on the right hand side of the table in a red tie below:
— 曹山石 (@caolei1) January 7, 2019
This week’s meetings mark a departure from previous attempts to tackle broad areas of contention with high-level meetings, and the representatives from both sides have said that progress is being made.
US delegation member Steven Winberg, who is a US assistant secretary for fossil energy, said on Tuesday that the talks are going on well so far, according to a report from Reuters.
President Trump echoed his sentiment, chiming in on Twitter.
“Talks with China are going very well!” Trump wrote.
The Wall Street Journal reported that the talks have thus far focused primarily on the issue of increasing Chinese purchases of US agriculture and energy goods, a topic which does not touch on the more contentious items on the agenda
The more intractable issues related to structural reforms to China’s industrial policies, as well as enforcement of any pledges, have been raised by officials on both sides, though there is little clarity on details.
One Chinese official reportedly described the negotiations as “constructive.”
The Trump administration’s calculus regarding how much to stress either increased purchases of US goods, on the one hand, or structural reforms reflects a divide within the White House. US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer has consistently stressed the latter, emphasizing the importance of binding enforcement mechanisms. Analysts say it is unlikely that China would concede to allow outside monitoring of enforcement.