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Top US officials to hold trade talks in Beijing next week

The subjects of next week’s discussions will cover trade issues including intellectual property, forced technology transfer, non-tariff barriers, and agriculture.

United States (US) trade representative Robert Lighthizer and treasury secretary Steven Mnuchin will head to Beijing next week for trade talks with China, the White House said in a statement.

The talks will begin on April 30, and on the Chinese side, vice-premier Liu He will lead the round of discussions.

The subjects of next week’s discussions will cover trade issues ‘including intellectual property, forced technology transfer, non-tariff barriers, agriculture, services, purchases, and enforcement,’ the White House said.

The White House said a delegation from Beijing will travel to Washington on May 8.

Trade talks ‘end-game’ in sight

Both sides have been shuttling between each other’s countries for the past few months to negotiate on a hefty trade deal to calm a trade dispute that had spooked markets late last year. US president Donald Trump hit a total of US$250 billion worth of Chinese goods with tariffs in the second half of last year and China then retaliated by imposing duties on US$110 billion of US goods.

Both parties have been negotiating for a trade deal since, and Mr Trump delayed the increase in US$200 billion worth of Chinese goods on March 1 to provide more time for negotiations between the two countries.

Talks between the two sides faced a slight blip in March, after weeks of visibly positive progress between both countries, as a summit between Mr Trump and Chinese president Xi Jinping was postponed later-than-expected from March to April.

Early this month, executive vice-president for international affairs at the US Chamber of Commerce Myron Brilliant told reporters 90% of the trade deal is done, but ironing out the last 10% is the hardest part. ‘It’s the trickiest part and it will require trade-offs on both sides.’

Currency movements

Most major currencies weakened against the greenback on Wednesday as the US dollar strengthened on signs of progress from the US-Sino trade conflict and as traders returned with a spring in their step after the long Easter weekend break.

At around 10.30am Singapore time, the Euro eased to US$1.1211, while the Sterling dipped 0.05% to US$1.2932. The Aussie dollar weakened 0.88% to US$0.7039 from yesterday’s US$0.7095.

The greenback to Yen was muted in movement, with a 0.01% increase to ¥111.88.

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