Larry Kudlow, director of the U.S. National Economic Council, gestures while walking through the Colonnade of the White House in Washington, D.C., U.S. (Photographer: Al Drago/Bloomberg)

Trade Deal Moves Closer as China and the U.S. Plan More Talks

(Bloomberg) -- President Donald Trump’s top economic adviser says the U.S. and China are “closer and closer” to a trade deal, and that top-tier officials would be talking again this week via “a lot of teleconferencing.”

Larry Kudlow’s “guarded optimism, maybe more than guarded optimism” on CBS’s “Face the Nation” on Sunday came after China’s state-run Xinhua news agency reported that progress was made during talks in Washington that ended Friday.

High-level U.S. and Chinese officials met on the heels of discussions in Beijing the previous week.

Chinese negotiators, led by Vice Premier Liu He, and their U.S. counterparts discussed the text of an agreement regarding technology transfers, intellectual property protections, non-tariff measures, services, agriculture, trade balance and enforcement, Xinhua said.

Trade Deal Moves Closer as China and the U.S. Plan More Talks

“We’ve made great progress on the IP theft. We’ve made good progress on the forced transfer of technology,” Kudlow said. The Chinese have acknowledged their problems, which was a very big hurdle, and “what wasn’t on the table, is on the table,” Kudlow said.

Despite Kudlow’s optimism, Xinhua, in a separate commentary on Friday, said that “the remaining issues are all hard nuts to crack.”

The White House released a statement Friday evening saying that “significant work remains, and the principals, deputy ministers, and delegation members will be in continuous contact to resolve outstanding issues.”

Trump, speaking to reporters on Friday, hailed the latest round of talks as a “big success” but said he didn’t want to predict whether a deal would be reached.

The president said before meeting Liu on Thursday in the Oval Office that the U.S. and China were close to an agreement, with an announcement possible in the next four to six weeks.

A month ago, Trump was touting the idea of a “signing summit” with Chinese President Xi Jinping, which aides suggested at the time could take place at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach, Florida. Now, there are no assurances. “If we have a deal, then we’ll have a summit,” the president said on Thursday.

The nine-month trade war between the world’s largest economies has disrupted supply chains, whipsawed markets and weighed on the world economy. International Monetary Fund Managing Director Christine Lagarde has warned both sides to avoid the “self-inflicted” wound of a protracted trade conflict.

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