U.S. and Chinese trade negotiators have made contact over the ongoing trade dispute between the two countries for the first time since U.S. President Joe Biden took office.
New U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai and Chinese Vice Premier Liu He spoke on Thursday, the two sides said in separate statements.
“The two sides had frank, pragmatic and constructive exchanges,” China’s Ministry of Commerce said.
The United States made a similar assessment, noting a “frank exchange” between the two.
The choice of words in diplomatic scenarios usually indicates that there were differences of opinion during the discussions.
The US side said that in a “virtual introductory meeting,” Ambassador Tai discussed “the guiding principles of the worker-centered trade policy of the Biden-Harris administration and its ongoing review of the Biden-Harris administration. trade relations between the United States and China, while also raising issues of concern. “
Ambassador Tai also said she looked forward to future discussions with Vice Premier Liu, according to the US statement.
The two sides stressed the importance of their trade relations.
But Joe Biden’s new US administration sees China as its biggest competitor and has indicated that it will also pursue a difficult course against Beijing – albeit in coordination with its international allies.
China has been accused of unfair trade practices, government subsidies, market barriers, intellectual property theft and forced technology transfer.
Beijing and Washington have been involved in a trade war for three years.
The last contact between negotiators took place in August during the administration of former US President Donald Trump.
The United States and China reached a partial agreement last January with a so-called Phase 1 trade deal that served as a ceasefire in the trade war, with compliance to be reviewed every six months.
China has pledged to significantly increase imports from the United States as part of the deal. Beijing is also asking the United States to remove the punitive tariffs imposed by Trump on almost all imports from China – more than what Beijing could respond to with counter-tariffs.