WASHINGTON – U.S. and Chinese officials are tentatively working to finalize a new trade agreement, with a signing ceremony expected as soon as late May, The Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday.
Citing an unnamed source, the newspaper also said U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer was expected in Beijing for a new round of face-to-face talks that could begin the week of April 29.
Lighthizer’s office did not immediately respond to an AFP request for comment.
During shuttle diplomacy in recent months, U.S. and Chinese officials have alternated between projecting optimism and warning that success in their fraught talks is not guaranteed.
But a key U.S. demand — a binding enforcement mechanism to prevent Beijing from backsliding on its commitments — has been virtually agreed, US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said this month.
The two sides have exchanged tariffs on more than $360 billion in two-way trade since last year, weighing on both countries’ manufacturing sectors and unnerving global stock markets.
To help reduce Beijing’s soaring U.S. trade surplus, Chinese officials have offered to increase purchases of American farm goods and energy exports.
But analysts say it remains unclear how far China will go in meeting U.S. demands for fundamental changes in industrial policy that could weaken the communist party’s hold on power.
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