February 26, 2018 / 7:28 AM / a month ago

China leader's top economic adviser heads to the U.S. for trade talks

BEIJING (Reuters) - Chinese President Xi Jinping’s top economic adviser, Liu He, will visit the United States this week, China’s Foreign Ministry said on Monday, at a time of tension between the two countries over trade.

FILE PHOTO: Liu He, vice chairman of the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), attends a signing ceremony between China and Vietnam at the Great Hall of the People, in Beijing, China May 11, 2017. REUTERS/Jason Lee/File Photo

Liu will be in the United States from Feb. 27 to March 3, ministry spokesman Lu Kang told a daily news briefing.

Views will be exchanged “on China-U.S. relations and the two countries’ economic and trade cooperation”, the spokesman said, confirming reports from the United States on the trip, but without giving other details.

Liu, a Harvard-trained economist and trusted confidant of President Xi, has emerged as the front-runner to be the next governor of China’s central bank, according to sources with knowledge of the situation.

Xi’s top adviser on economic policy is also expected to become vice premier overseeing the Chinese economy, part of a government reshuffle coinciding with the annual meeting of China’s parliament that opens on March 5 and is likely to last about two weeks.

A senior U.S. official said last week that there will be discussions on trade disputes with Liu when he visits Washington.

On the U.S. side, the talks will be led by President Donald Trump’s trade envoy, Robert Lighthizer.

The discussions will take place as Donald Trump considers new tariffs on steel imports.

Trump has long sought a way to a more balanced trade relationship with China and threatened to impose a big “fine” against China to protect American intellectual property.

The U.S. official said Trump had been discussing imposing a global tariff on imports of steel from China and other countries.

The U.S. Commerce Department on Feb. 16 recommended that Trump impose stiff curbs on steel imports from China and other countries and offered the president several options, ranging from global and country-specific tariffs to broad import quotas.

A blanket tariff on steel would cover every steel and aluminium product entering the United State market from China, the world’s largest steel producer.

Reporting by Michael Martina; Writing by Ben Blanchard; Editing by Richard Borsuk

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