G7 Summit: signs of hope as Donald Trump says U.S.-China trade talks are on

‘Beijing called last night... said let’s get back to the table’

August 26, 2019 10:37 pm | Updated 10:40 pm IST - Biarritz

Donald Trump. File

Donald Trump. File

There were signs of a thaw in trade-war tensions between China and the U.S. on Monday as President Donald Trump said delegations would “very shortly” resume talks and Beijing’s top negotiator called for “calm”.

The two sides have been embroiled in a bruising year-long dispute that has seen tariffs slapped on billions of dollars worth of goods in two-way trade, with the row escalating over the weekend.

But just three days after the announcement of further mutual tariff hikes, Mr. Trump told reporters at the G7 summit in France’s Biarritz that there had been two “very, very good” phone calls from “high-level” Chinese officials.

“China called last night... said let’s get back to the table. So we’ll be getting back to the table,” he said on Monday, adding that “they want to make a deal”.

He later said talks with China were “more meaningful than at any time” because the United States was doing well while China was “losing millions of jobs”.

Mr. Trump’s comments followed moves by China’s most powerful trade negotiator, Vice Premier Liu He, to take the edge off the soaring tensions.

“We are willing to solve the problem through consultation and cooperation with a calm attitude,” said Mr. Liu, according to a report by Chinese news outlet Caixin.

“We firmly oppose the escalation of the trade war,” he said, speaking at the opening ceremony of the 2019 Smart China Expo in the southwestern city of Chongqing.

Mr. Trump later said “calm” was “very good word to use. It’s not a word I use often.”

The U.S. president also insisted the calls were at “the highest levels”. “The vice premier is low level? I don’t think so,” he said, seemingly referring to Mr. Liu.

U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin travelled to Shanghai in July for a round of trade talks, where discussions were described as “constructive” but ended with no announcements.

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