White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow. Picture: REUTERS/CAROLS BARRIA
White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow. Picture: REUTERS/CAROLS BARRIA

Washington — US and Chinese officials are working to schedule a top-level trade talks by telephone this week but a face-to-face encounter has not been scheduled yet, US officials say.

Efforts to pencil in a new round of negotiations come a week after President Donald Trump and Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping met in Japan and agreed to restart their stalled negotiations.

But Beijing showed no sign of softening its position, with the commerce ministry announcing on Thursday that any resolution would require Washington to lift the steep tariffs it imposed on Chinese imports in 2018.

“I know they’re working on coming up with a date for so-called face-to-face meetings. That will happen,” top White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow told Fox Business Network.

“I think the phone calls are this week. The face-to-face meeting may not be for another week,” he said.

An official with the US trade representative’s office confirmed that efforts are under way to schedule a call between top negotiators for this week.

Meanwhile, The South China Morning Post also reported that talks are due to resume in Beijing this week.

US stocks appeared to react positively to word talks will resume, erasing some of the losses from earlier in the day when a strong jobs report called into doubt a hoped-for cut in interest rates by the Federal Reserve.

Trade talks with Beijing have been stalled since May, when Trump accused Chinese negotiators of reneging on core commitments made over prior months of negotiating.

But at their meeting on the sidelines of the Group of 20 summit in Japan on June 28, Trump agreed to soften the hardline stance on Chinese telecommunications company Huawei, which US officials claim poses a national security threat.

The decision triggered a backlash among legislators on Capitol Hill but White House officials said the changes should not create any additional risk to US national security.

The White House also said last week it has no intention of easing a ban on Huawei’s participation in the development of 5G wireless networks in the US.

Beijing and Washington have hit each other with tariffs on $360bn in two-way trade since 2018, rattling markets and weighing on the manufacturing sector, while fuelling concerns about a weakening global economy.