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Trade war

US-China trade talks likely in January: Mnuchin

Treasury secretary says Huawei arrest and economic issues are separate

Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, left, listens to U.S. President Donald Trump at the White House. Trump administration officials have been in phone contact with their Chinese counterparts in recent weeks.   © Reuters

WASHINGTON -- The U.S. expects to hold a series of trade talks with China in January aiming for a preliminary resolution of the issues underpinning their trade war, U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Tuesday.

The two sides are closing in on the schedule after conducting a series of phone calls in recent weeks, Mnuchin told Bloomberg in an interview. Negotiators are still working out the logistics of the meetings, he added.

The U.S. had planned to raise tariffs on Chinese goods at the start of the year, but has agreed to postpone the hike until the beginning of March. If discussions prove fruitful, the U.S. and China will put areas of agreement in writing by the time the truce expires.

Mnuchin sought to distance the recent arrest of Meng Wanzhou, the Huawei Technlogies chief financial officer, in Canada at Washington's behest from the trade discussions with China. "We've been very clear, and China understands that these are separate tracks," he said.

President Donald Trump has suggested that he could intervene on Meng's behalf if that would help the trade negotiations. But Mnuchin said Tuesday that neither he nor Trump was aware of the Dec. 1 arrest when they met with Chinese President Xi Jinping that day.

Trump and Xi agreed that the two sides will take 90 days to discuss their points of contention, including alleged intellectual property violations and cyberattacks, with the hope of coming up with solutions by the March 1 deadline. In the event of an impasse, tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese products will rise to 25% from 10% on March 2.

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