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China, US officials to meet next week, Chinese firms have begun inquiring about US agriculture purchase

China’s vice premier Liu He said on Thursday Chinese and US officials will meet next week to discuss topics including trade balance, market access and investor protection, according to the official Xinhua news agency.

China’s Ministry of Commerce said on Thursday that Chinese firms have began to inquire about prices for US agricultural products purchases, in a sign of a potential de-escalation of trade tensions between the world’s two largest economies.

“According to my understanding, Chinese firms have started to inquire about prices for U.S. agricultural goods. (China) hopes both sides would continue to meet each other half way and adopt concrete actions to create favorable conditions for negotiations,” said Gao Feng, spokesman of the ministry.

Possible purchases of US farm goods included pork and soybeans, Gao said, both of which are still subject to hefty Chinese duties.

Gao said working-level teams from both countries will meet soon to prepare for the next round of top-level talks between Chinese Vice Premier Liu He, and U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.

On Wednesday, US President Donald Trump said the US government had agreed to delay hiking tariffs on $250 billion worth of Chinese imports from Oct. 1 to Oct. 15 “as a gesture of goodwill.” The tariffs were set to increase to 30% from 25% on the goods. That came after China unveiled a list of 16 types of US products that will be exempted from retaliatory tariffs.

The two sides’ concession comes ahead of a meeting between leading US and Chinese trade negotiators in Washington scheduled in early October, although the specific data has yet to be announced.

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