US and Chinese high-level trade negotiators hold phone call for ‘phase one’ deal

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China’s and US’ high-level trade negotiators held a phone call on early Tuesday as the two parties aim to reach a preliminary “phase one” of the trade deal, according to China’s Commerce Ministry.

The phone call between the United States’ Trade representative Robert Lighthizer and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and China’s Vice Premier Liu He aimed to discuss the main points of the phase one of the deal.

The two parties also spoke about “core issues of concern” and arrived at “a common understanding on resolving relevant problems.”

Phase one of the trade deal is likely to extend into the new year according to trade experts, countering expectations of finalizing it in November. Sources said Beijing is pressing for more rollbacks on implemented tariffs as Washington also pushes for its own demands.

Beijing and Washington officials, as well as trade experts, discuss that a phase two of the trade deal is ambitious and unlikely.

The phone call was held amid a series of fronts between Washington and Beijing. Meanwhile, China has summoned US Ambassador Terry Branstad to counter the passage of the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act in the US Congress.

The legislation was an interference in Chinese internal matters, claimed by China’s foreign ministry.

Also participated in the phone call were central bank governor Yi Gang, commerce minister Zhong Shan, and vice head of state planner Ning Jizhe.

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