US, China hail major progress in trade talks

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(Washington) – The United States and China said their trade war negotiations resulted in major progress as the clock ticks on a March deadline to avert a massive escalation of tariffs that could bruise the global economy.

US President Donald Trump hailed “tremendous progress” and welcomed a “beautiful” letter from his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping, who said he hoped for further cooperation.

Beijing´s official Xinhua news agency said that US and Chinese negotiators made “important progress” during two days of “candid, specific and fruitful” discussions in Washington.

Although the latest round of talks ended with positive words, the White House emphasized the two sides still faced the “hard deadline” of March 1 to avoid another sharp escalation in their trade war.

Economists say that prospect — which would mean more than doubling US tariffs on $200 billion in Chinese goods — would be a body blow to the global economy.

In a letter from Xi to Trump that was read out by the Chinese delegation, Xi said relations were at a “critical” stage and that he hoped “our two sides will continue to work with mutual respect.”

Trump said relations between the two countries are “very, very good.”

US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin will travel to China in mid-February for the next round of talks, according to Xinhua, and Trump said he would meet Xi after that to close the deal.