The world’s two largest economies, the United States and China have reportedly started laying out a deal to put an end to their seven-month trade dispute.
Sources told Reuters the broad outline of what could make up a deal is beginning to emerge from high level talks held on Thursday and Friday in Washington.
Beijing and Washington are pushing for an agreement by March 1 which could mark the end of a 90-day truce that US President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping agreed to when they met in Argentina late last year.
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According to the sources, the sides still remain far apart on demands made by the Trump administration for structural changes to China’s economy.
Negotiators are drawing up six memorandums (MOUs) of understanding on structural issues. Those include forced technology transfer and cyber theft, intellectual property rights, services, currency, agriculture, and non-tariff barriers to trade, two sources familiar with the progress of the talks said.
The process has become a real trade negotiation, one of them said. The other source cautioned that the talks could still end in failure, adding, however, the work on the MOUs was a significant step in getting China to sign up both to broad principles and to specific commitments on key issues.
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Washington has repeatedly accused Beijing of stealing trade secrets, forcing foreign companies to hand over technology as the price of access to the Chinese market, and subsidizing its own tech companies. As part of the standoff Washington imposed tariffs on $250 billion in Chinese imports. Beijing retaliated with levies on $110 billion in US goods.
Trump has threatened to extend the tariffs to an additional $267 billion in Chinese goods if a trade deal is not reached by the March 1 deadline. The White House also plans to hike tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese imports from 10 percent to 25 percent. China denied all the accusations, calling US measures protectionist.