UPDATED 12:41 PM PT — Thursday, February 21, 2019
High-level trade talks have resumed in Washington, D.C. as the U.S. and China appear to be closer than ever to reaching a trade agreement. Delegations from both sides are meeting Thursday, with meetings expected to last through Friday.
The U.S. team is led by trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, while the Chinese side is being led by the vice premier.
In what looks to be the most significant progress made yet, negotiators on both sides are reportedly outlining six memorandums that will look to address key structural issues. That includes forced technology transfer, cyber theft, concerns related to intellectual property, issues related to agriculture, and non-tariffs barriers.
The spokesman for China’s Ministry of Commerce — Gao Feng — expressed optimism about the prospects of a deal.
“The two teams are having in depth communications on relevant economic and trade issues,” he stated. “Holding such frequent talks, the teams of both sides aim to reach an agreement according to the consensus of the two heads of state.”
With what appears to be great strides being made, all eyes will be on whether President Trump decides to extend the deadline on when tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese goods will go into effect. That deadline is set for a week from Friday. He has not ruled out doing that if he thought a deal would come soon after, which is something that now looks closer than ever.
It’s expected that President Trump and President Xi Jinping will meet before any deal is finalized.