U.S. Chamber of Commerce urges comprehensive U.S.-China trade deal

February 22, 2019

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. Chamber of Commerce on Friday said gaps remain in the ongoing trade talks between the United States and China, particularly around structural issues, but urged both sides to make a comprehensive deal as soon as possible.

Officials for the nation’s top business lobbying group, who said they had been engaged with those familiar with the talks, told reporters in a conference call that they also expected negotiations to continue past the March 1 deadline.

U.S. and Chinese negotiators are meeting in Washington this week, seeking to hammer out a deal that would avert a scheduled increase in U.S. levies after that date, to 25 percent from 10 percent, on $200 billion worth of goods.

“To us, the date is not magical. What’s important is to get a comprehensive sustainable agreement,” said the Chamber’s executive vice president and head of international affairs Myron Brilliant, noting he did not expect either side to impose more tariffs or increase existing ones as long as the talks continue to be constructive.

Brilliant, whose group says it represents three million companies, said so far the trade war between the world’s two largest economies has increased business costs with the impact of tariffs continuing to mount.

“We want to go back to business, but not business as usual,” Brilliant said, emphasizing that it was important any deal address the core U.S. concerns around Chinese business practices as well as ensure sustainable enforcement.

President Donald Trump was scheduled to meet Beijing’s Chinese Vice Premier Liu He at the White House later on Friday. The two countries have been embroiled in a tit-for-tat tariff battle since the middle of 2018 that has cost both economies billions. The Republican president has said next week’s deadline may slip.

(Reporting by David Lawder and Makini Brice in Washington and Chris Prentice in New York; Editing by James Dalgleish)

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