WASHINGTON—President Donald Trump said on June 18 he had spoken to Chinese leader Xi Jinping and that the two leaders’ teams would restart trade talks after a long lull in order to prepare for a meeting at the G-20 summit later this month.
The United States and China are in the middle of a costly trade war. Talks between the two sides to reach a broad deal broke down in May and interaction since then has been limited.
Trump has made no secret that, despite his threat to escalate the dispute with more U.S. tariffs on Chinese goods, he would like to meet with Xi at the Group of 20 meeting in Japan, which begins June 28. Though he has repeatedly said the two parties would talk, the Chinese side has not confirmed a meeting would take place.
In a Twitter post, Trump said he and his Chinese counterpart had agreed to start preparations during a phone call.
“Had a very good telephone conversation with President Xi of China. We will be having an extended meeting next week at the G-20 in Japan. Our respective teams will begin talks prior to our meeting,” Trump wrote.
The two leaders discussed the importance of leveling the playing field for U.S. farmers, workers, and businesses through a fair and reciprocal economic relationship. This includes addressing structural barriers to trade with China and achieving meaningful reforms that are enforceable and verifiable. They also discussed regional security issues.
“This is a very positive development,” said Clete Willems, a trade negotiator with Trump’s team, who cited the importance of a meeting between Xi and Trump at the last G-20 in Argentina.
“Leader level engagement at last year’s G20 was critical to jumpstarting the talks. It will be essential to managing the current political dynamic and getting the talks back on track once again.”
Washington has already imposed 25 percent tariffs on $250 billion of Chinese goods, ranging from semi-conductors to furniture, that are imported to the United States.
Trump has threatened to put tariffs on another $325 billion of goods, covering nearly all of the remaining Chinese imports into the United States, including products such as cellphones, computers, and clothing.
The U.S. administration accused the Chinese regime of going back on past commitments made in earlier rounds of trade talks.
Reuters reported on May 8, citing government and private sector sources, that Beijing reversed previous promises to change its laws to address core U.S. concerns, including theft of U.S. intellectual property, forced technology transfers, and currency manipulation.
The reversal affected every chapter of the nearly 150-page draft agreement that was being negotiated during months of bilateral talks.
The Trump administration’s demand for the Chinese regime to implement structural reforms, which propelled it to launch the trade war with China in March 2018, has been a sticking point during trade negotiations.
By Jeff Mason and Susan Heavey. The Epoch Times contributed to this report.