Mnuchin, in China, looks forward to trade talks

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USA and Chinese officials expressed hope on Monday (Feb 11) that this week's round of talks would bring them closer to easing their seven-month trade war.

The US has said it will increase tariff rates on $200bn worth of Chinese imports from 10% to 25% if the two sides don't strike a deal by 1 March.

"If we're close to a deal where we think we can make a real deal and it's going to get done, I could see myself letting that slide for a little while", Trump said of the deadline at a White House cabinet meeting.

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Those tariffs now stand at 10 percent, but an additional $50 billion worth of imports has already been hit by a 25 percent tariff. While those purchases will provide relief to US farmers, there has been no breakthrough on the structural issues separating the two nations, such as industrial policy, government subsidies, protection of intellectual property or forced transfers of technology.

United States officials previously said 1 March was a hard deadline for achieving a deal to avert further tariffs. US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin will lead the US delegation for the third round of talks on Thursday and Friday in Beijing.

Mnuchin appeared at a Beijing hotel a couple of days ahead of scheduled high-level meetings with Chinese officials in the capital, with a March 1 deadline looming to strike an accord. A round of talks at the end of January ended with some progress reported, but no deal and US declarations that much more work was needed. It has fast-tracked approval of a law that would ban theft of intellectual property and forced technology transfers, but the question is how much more it can compromise.

US President Donald Trump has said he could extend the 1 March deadline to reach a trade deal with China if they are making good progress.

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