Chinese Vice Premier Liu He will travel to Washington for trade talks on Thursday and Friday, Beijing said on Tuesday, setting up a last-ditch bid to avoid a sharp increase in tariffs on Chinese goods announced by President Donald Trump.
U.S. officials have accused China of backtracking in the past week on substantial commitments made during months of negotiations aimed at ending their bruising trade war, prompting Trump to issue a new deadline to raise tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese goods to 25 percent from 10 percent.
The higher tariffs would take effect on Friday if a deal is not reached by then, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer told reporters on Monday at a briefing that cast doubts over prospects for a deal.
The negative turn in sentiment over the talks between the world’s two largest economies shook Wall Street, causing major stock indexes to tumble more than 1 percent. Treasury yields and oil prices also fell as the potential for an unraveling of the trade talks sparked fresh concerns about global growth.
China’s Commerce Ministry confirmed that Liu, who leads the talks for Beijing, will spend only two days in Washington, instead of the three days he had previously planned.
A person with knowledge of the talks told Reuters that Chinese negotiators sought to reverse earlier agreements to make changes to Chinese laws to reflect policy changes on a “comprehensive” range of issues. It would be difficult to overcome this setback and reach agreement on other sticking points, such as subsidies and cloud computing access, in just two days of talks, the person said.