February 5, 2019 / 9:50 PM / 6 months ago

U.S.' Mnuchin, Lighthizer to hold talks next week in China: sources

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Senior U.S. and Chinese officials are poised to start another round of trade talks in Beijing next week to push for a deal to protect American intellectual property and avert a March 2 increase in U.S. tariffs on Chinese goods, two people familiar with the plans said on Tuesday.

FILE PHOTO - U.S. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin speaks to Capitol Hill reporters after it was reporterd House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) would ask the Treasury Department to delay the lifting of sanctions on two companies tied to Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska to give Congress time to review the decision in Washington, U.S., January 15, 2019. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas

The sources said that the U.S. delegation would begin arriving in Beijing over the weekend, following a break this week for Chinese New Year.

U.S. President Donald Trump said in his State of the Union address on Tuesday that any new trade deal with China “must include real, structural change to end unfair trade practices, reduce our chronic trade deficit and protect American jobs.”

The new round of talks in Beijing, to be led by U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, was earlier reported by the Wall Street Journal, citing an unidentified senior administration official.

A USTR spokeswoman said the agency had no new announcements to make on the issue. A Treasury Department spokesman could not immediately be reached for comment.

The U.S. president has vowed to increase U.S. tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese imports to 25 percent from 10 percent currently if the two sides cannot reach a deal by 12:01 a.m. (0501 GMT) on March 2.

Bilateral talks have centered on addressing U.S. demands for deep structural changes to China’s economic and trade policies, including new protections for U.S. intellectual property, ending forced technology transfers, reining in China’s subsidies for state industries and increasing Chinese purchases of U.S. farm, energy and manufactured products.

The Journal said that China has agreed to widen the trade discussions to include cyber hacking.

“We are now making it clear to China that after years of targeting our industries, and stealing our intellectual property, the theft of American jobs and wealth has come to an end,” Trump said in his speech.

Trump said last week in Washington that he would meet with Chinese President Xi Jinping in coming weeks to try to seal a comprehensive deal, possibly as part of a trip to meet North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

That summit will take place Feb. 27 and 28 in Vietnam, Trump said on Tuesday.

Reporting by Chris Prentice in New York, Michael Hirtzer in Chicago and David Lawder and Doina Chiacu and in Washington; Editing by Grant McCool and Sonya Hepinstall

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