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US-China trade talks nearing decisive moment: official

WASHINGTON, (AFP): Trade talks between the world’s dominant economies are in the decisive phase that will determine whether a final agreement is possible, US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Monday of negotiations with China.
Mnuchin and US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer travel to Beijing this week for another round of talks with Chinese negotiators starting Tuesday, and they will meet next week in Washington to try to finalize a deal that President Donald Trump has demanded to repair what he calls and unfair and unbalanced relationship.
“I think there’s a strong desire from both sides to see if we can wrap this up or move on,” Mnuchin said in an interview on Fox Business Network.
“We hope within the next two rounds — in China and in DC — to be at the point where we can either recommend to the president we have a deal or make a recommendation that we don’t.”
Trump imposed steep punitive tariffs on more than $250 billion in imports from China, and Beijing has retaliated with duties on $110 billion in US goods.
US businesses nationwide report that the tariffs are raising costs on key inputs for production, and the uncertainty is causing them to delay investments and hiring.
However, Mnuchin again defended Trump’s aggressive trade policies, saying “tariffs have been a big part of getting people to the negotiating table. The president’s objective is make sure we have fair and balanced trade.”
Washington is insisting on tough enforcement provisions in any trade pact with Beijing, and Mnuchin said the sides are close to agreement on that aspect which just needs “fine tuning.”
But the deal also covers improved protection for US technology and trade secrets, and opening China further to foreign investment, Mnuchin said.
“The most important is that we have a rebalanced economic relationship. The US has been open to them for investment and for goods. We want a reciprocal trading relationship,” he said.

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