High stakes trade negotiations between China and United States underway

US President Donald Trump speaks to China's Vice Premier Liu

A Chinese official surprised the Trump administration by announcing plans to increase purchases of American soybeans in an Oval Office meeting with President Donald Trump, a senior USA official said Thursday as a round of trade talks concluded without a deal.

US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, 71, is leading the American negotiating team, taking over from Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, who did not deliver on a breakthrough.

Trump is expected to meet with the Chinese Vice Premier Liu He on Thursday as the talks conclude, according to a White House official.

Trade experts say China has begun to crack down on intellectual property theft as well as the forced transfer of technology.

Seen as counter-balancing Navarro's hardline stance, this former Goldman Sachs executive, 56, supports free trade and offers a more moderate voice on China.

"No deal that doesn't have trust and verification components is going to be a good deal that will get the blessing of the president of the United States or the business community", he said.

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Chinese Vice Premier Liu Hu and Beijing officials are discussing disputes over intellectual property rights and drugs with Trump's top economic and trade aides. "There's still work to be done, there are still gaps in some of the important issues, and we're hopeful that the two sides will work through this in a continuing, constructive and positive manner".

The report comes as high-level negotiators from China and the U.S. are meeting in Washington to try to strike a deal.

The slow pace of talks and mountain of issues remaining to be agreed sets up what could be a tense countdown to the March 1 deadline, with a personal meeting between Trump and Xi looming as perhaps the only way to bridge some gaps.

But analysts doubt that the world's two biggest economies can reach any comprehensive deal over the next month.

A crucial component of any progress in the talks, according to USA officials, is agreement on a mechanism to verify and enforce China's follow-through on any reform pledges.

"There are some points we don't agree to, but we will agree", the president told reporters.

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"The best hope for getting a deal is a face-to face-meeting" between the two leaders, said Brookings Institution China scholar David Dollar.

He said that all of the many problems were being discussed and will be hopefully resolved. But the tough issues dividing the world's two biggest economies remained unsettled after two days of meetings between USA and Chinese negotiators.

The American delegation to this week's talks is led by Lighthizer, a longtime critic of aggressive Chinese trade practices and of USA policies that failed to blunt them. Beijing retaliated with levies on $110 billion in United States goods.

Top US and Chinese trade officials returned to the bargaining table Wednesday, January 30, working to avoid a sharp escalation in the trade war between the world's two largest economies.

Trump has been optimistic about the talks, as pressure builds from Congress to Wall Street for the White House to strike a deal.

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