China's trade surplus with United States narrows in January

China's trade surplus with United States narrows in January

In December, Washington suspended for three months Trump's plan to increase tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese imports - to 25 percent from the current 10 percent - to allow time for negotiations.

Officials from the world's top two economies are holding negotiations in Beijing on Thursday and Friday in a bid to resolve their thorny trade dispute.

Chinese President Xi Jinping also plans to meet with the U.S. officials in Beijing this week bolstering hopes for the talks and world markets, reports the South China Morning Post.

Business groups and economists say the decision by the top trade envoys to participate suggests the talks might be making enough progress to require higher-level political decisions.

James Green, a senior research fellow at Georgetown University who was America's top trade representative at the U.S. embassy in Beijing until past year, believes China wants a Trump-Xi summit to lockdown a deal and avoid the huge tariff increase.

Today, US department of agriculture deputy secretary Stephen Censky said Mr Trump and President Xi are expected to meet "some time in March", a further suggestion the US is views March 1 as a soft deadline.

Negotiators are working to strike a deal by March 1, to avoid a rise in US tariffs on $200 million worth of Chinese goods from 10 percent to 25 percent.

The U.S. president had said on Tuesday that the deadline for an agreement could "slide for a little while", but he preferred not to do so.

Exports to the United States also declined 2.4 percent to $36.54 billion, the lowest amount since last April.




Trump's advisors have described March 1 as a "hard deadline", and the president has said a delay was possible though he preferred not to do so.

"From their point of view, they would have dodged a bullet", Green, who was USTR's top official at the US embassy in Beijing until mid-2018, told Reuters.

Mnuchin, along with US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, arrived in the Chinese capital yesterday.

"The hardliners seem loath to settle for a deal that represents anything less than total capitulation by China on all US demands", he said. "China is a developing country and its reforms need to take place step by step".

"The broad trend in shipments still appears to be pointing down", he said in a report.

Chinese officials reject complaints that foreign companies are required to hand over technology.

Both Pence and U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo warned allies in Poland and other Central European countries this week on the dangers of closer ties with Beijing and collaboration with Chinese firms.

Trump has said he did not expect to meet with Xi before March 1, but White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders has raised the possibility of a meeting between the leaders at the president's Mar-a-Lago retreat in Florida.

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