China Customs Authority Gives Green Light for U.S. Rice Imports

"The two sides have indeed made concrete arrangements to meet face-to-face" next month, Gao said, without confirming media reports that USA representatives will visit China on January 7.

Deputy U.S. Trade Representative Jeffrey Gerrish will lead the Trump administration's team, which will also include Treasury Under Secretary for International Affairs David Malpass, according to the people, who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

US President Donald Trump and Chinese leader Xi Jinping agreed on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Buenos Aires at the start of December to a 90-day truce while they try to find a solution to the escalating trade dispute.

Word of the meeting follows small signs of progress -- and the absence of new threats from Trump -- while the two sides work to ease trade tensions by March 1. Beijing this week announced a third round of tariff cuts, lowering import taxes on more than 700 goods beginning January 1, 2019, as part of its efforts to open up the economy and lower costs for domestic consumers.

Officials at a government-affiliated think-tank in Beijing said the price of US rice was not competitive, compared with imports from South Asia, and said the move to formally permit imports from the United States should be interpreted as a goodwill gesture.

The U.S. also delayed a planned January 1 tariff increase until March 2. Visit MarketWatch.com for more information on this news.

The two sides are maintaining "close communication", Gao said. He is pushing the Asian nation to reduce trade barriers and stop alleged theft of intellectual property.

Consultations through "intensive" telephone calls will continue in the meantime, Gao Feng, spokesman at the Commerce Ministry, told reporters, adding that talks have been steadily moving forward despite the Christmas break in the United States.

Trump said after returning from his South American meeting with Xi that U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer would be in charge of the China talks. He said that March 1 was a "hard deadline" that was endorsed by Trump, Bloomberg reported.

Since then, China has cut tariffs on vehicles imported from the U.S., resumed the purchase of soya from the North American country and submitted a draft law to prohibit forced technology transfers.

  • Wendy Palmer