U.S. President Donald Trump, right, and Xi Jinping, China’s president, outside the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China. (Photographer: Qilai Shen/Bloomberg)

China Sends Vice Ministers to Washington to Pave Way for U.S. Talks

(Bloomberg) -- A Chinese delegation including deputy ministers will arrive in Washington on Monday to prepare for high-level trade talks led by Vice Premier Liu He, according to people briefed on the matter.

China Sends Vice Ministers to Washington to Pave Way for U.S. Talks

Vice Commerce Minister Wang Shouwen and Vice Finance Minister Liao Min will arrive in the U.S. on Jan 28, according to two of the people, who asked not to be named as the discussions aren’t public. China’s central bank governor Yi Gang will join the talks, one of the people said. It wasn’t immediately clear which other officials will attend.

The U.S. has billed the Liu talks as “very, very important” while playing down the chances of a breakthrough. Liu will meet with U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin from Jan. 30 to 31, with about five weeks remaining until a deadline for the U.S. to escalate tariffs on $200 billion of Chinese goods.

China Sends Vice Ministers to Washington to Pave Way for U.S. Talks

The two sides do not appear close to agreement on a wide range of disputes, from China’s handling of intellectual property to the imbalance in goods flows between the two nations. China’s commerce, finance and foreign affairs ministries, as well as the central bank, didn’t immediately respond to faxed requests for comment on the trip.

PBOC Governor Yi accompanied Liu for earlier trade talks in Washington in May, and was among Chinese officials who participated in negotiations with the U.S. in Beijing in June. The central bank oversees management of the yuan’s exchange rate, which U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Thursday is an important aspect of the trade talks.

Unlike its counterparts in other nations, the PBOC isn’t independent. China’s cabinet, the State Council, oversees the central bank and as vice premier, Liu outranks Yi.

Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said the U.S. and China are eager to end their trade war in an interview with Bloomberg TV, but the outcome will hinge on whether Beijing will deepen economic reforms and further open up its markets. He also said he expects that negotiators will release a statement on their progress after the talks.

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