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White House denies reports of cancelled trade meeting 

Washington, January 23

The White House said high-level trade talks with Beijing were proceeding uninterrupted, quickly rebutting media reports that progress toward resolving their trade war had faltered.

Chinese Vice Premier Liu He is to meet his US counterparts in Washington next week as the two sides work to resolve their trade disagreements by March 1, when a 90-day truce is due to expire, allowing US import duties on Chinese goods to increase sharply.

Washington and Beijing imposed tit-for-tat tariffs on more than USD 360 billion worth of goods in two-way trade last year.

Trump initiated the trade war because of complaints over unfair Chinese trade practices—concerns shared by the European Union, Japan and others.

The Financial Times and CNBC both reported Tuesday afternoon that Washington had canceled a preliminary meeting set for this week ahead of Liu’s visit. 

American officials had reportedly cited a lack of progress on the most difficult issues in the trade dispute—including allegedly forced technology transfers and far-reaching structural reforms to China’s economy.

The reports sent Wall Street even further into the red. US stocks had already opened lower on downgraded forecasts for global economic growth.

But, shortly before the close of trading in New York, top White House economic aide Larry Kudlow flatly denied the reports during an appearance on CNBC.

“With respect, the story is not true,” Kudlow said Tuesday.

“There was never a planned meeting that was canceled.” China’s foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying concurred Wednesday at a regular press briefing, adding that she had not heard of any changes and that “both sides remain in contact on China-US trade consultation issues”.

Stock prices recovered some of their losses following Kudlow’s remarks but still finished substantially lower for the day. Asian markets were mixed on Wednesday.

Kudlow said the United States continued to press the Chinese on the subject of intellectual property and state intervention in markets, among other matters.

He also said American officials were insisting that any agreement have teeth to ensure Beijing’s compliance.

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