China and America’s trade negotiators have made a last-minute change to their original plans and rescheduled their talks for Buenos Aires instead of Washington, a source who was briefed by the matter has told the South China Morning Post.
The Post reported last week that Liu He, China’s chief trade negotiator and the top economic aide to President Xi Jinping, was planning to fly to Washington for talks with the US delegation, possibly led by Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.
However, a person who was updated on the latest changes said the plan had been adjusted after “work-level discussions” between Beijing and Washington.
“The latest plan is that the two countries’ trade negotiation teams will meet in Buenos Aires,” the person, who declined to be identified, told the Post.
The source added that the change was partly intended to ensure the talks would have a more direct effect on the meeting between Xi and Donald Trump during the G20 summit in the Argentine capital later this month.
The change, if confirmed, suggests that stakes will be raised for the leaders’ meeting with more weighty matters likely to be on the agenda.
It will also mark for the first time that bilateral trade negotiations between the world’s two biggest economies have taken place in a third-party country.
The progress of the scheduled trade talks will have a direct effect on the meeting between Xi and Trump.
The Post has previously reported that the two state leaders will meet for a dinner on December 1 immediately after the end of the G20 meeting, at Trump’s invitation.
Both China and the US have confirmed the meeting between Trump and Xi in Argentina.
However, the two sides have not released any information regarding the trade team talks.
Trump said on Friday that the US had made progress towards resolving the trade dispute after receiving a response to his demands from Beijing.
But the US president told reporters that the Chinese response was lacking in four or five key areas. “China wants to make a deal, they sent a list of things they are willing to do, which is a large list, and it is just not acceptable to me yet. But at some point I think that we are doing extremely well with respect to China,” he said.
The US president said he would proceed with a threat to impose additional tariffs on US$267 billion worth of Chinese products if the two countries do not reach a deal, but added: “We may not have to do that, China would like to make a deal.”
Meanwhile, Xi told the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Papua New Guinea on Saturday that China was committed to giving more market access to foreign companies and he urged the Asia-Pacific leaders to help protect the global trade system.
“Mankind will have to choose between cooperation or resistance – opening up for mutual benefits or a zero-sum game,” the China leader said. “History has shown that confrontation, whether in the form of a cold war, a hot war or a trade war will produce no winners.”