China, US trade negotiators reach 'consensus on principles'

Beijing (AFP) –


Top Chinese and US trade negotiators have "reached consensus on principles", China's commerce ministry announced in a statement Saturday.

Chinese Vice Premier Liu He spoke by phone with US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Treasury Secretary Mnuchin on Friday, and "conducted serious and constructive discussions on properly addressing their core concerns and reached consensus on principles," the ministry said.

Additionally, "the two sides discussed the next consultations," the ministry said, without providing further detail.

Uncertainty has swirled over the potential US-China trade deal since the cancellation earlier this week of the APEC summit in Chile, where US President Donald Trump said that he expected a "phase one" trade deal with Beijing to be signed after an 18-month trade impasse between the two economic giants.

But Chile's President Sebastian Pinera announced Wednesday that his country could no longer host the event, due to violent unrest in the city.

China and the US have exchanged blows for over a year, with tariffs now impacting hundreds of billions of dollars in two-way trade.

Now with the 2020 presidential election approaching, and Trump under pressure from the impeachment inquiry in Congress, US trade officials have focused on getting a partial deal in the books.