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U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said trade negotiators had productive meetings

Beijing. Top U.S. and Chinese trade negotiators had “productive meetings”, U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in a tweet on Friday, as the world’s largest economies wound down two days of high-level talks to resolve their bruising trade war.

Mnuchin did not elaborate on the discussions he and U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer had with Chinese Vice Premier Liu He, a top economic advisor to President Xi Jinping, who the two U.S. officials met later on Friday in Beijing.

The U.S. delegation had a banquet with Chinese counterparts at a Beijing hotel on Thursday night, a person with knowledge of the meetings said. But neither country had offered details on how the two sides might de-escalate a tariff war that has roiled financial markets and disrupted manufacturing supply chains.

U.S. duties on $200 billion (156 billion pounds) worth of imports from China are scheduled to rise to 25 percent from 10 percent if no deal is reached by March 1 to address U.S. demands that China curb forced technology transfers and better enforce intellectual property rights.

Although U.S. President Donald Trump said earlier in the week that an extension of the deadline was possible if a “real deal” was close, Larry Kudlow, director of the National Economic Council, said the White House had made no such decision.

Several sources informed about the meetings told Reuters there was little indication negotiators had made major progress on sticking points to pave the way for a potential meeting between Xi and Trump in coming weeks to hammer out a deal.

“Stalemate on the important stuff,” said one of the sources, all of whom requested anonymity because the talks are confidential.

“There’s still a lot of distance between parties on structural and enforcement issues. I wouldn’t quite call it hitting a wall, but it’s not a field of dreams either,” said a second source.

The Financial Times cited sources as saying the two sides were trying to reach a memorandum of understanding to help bring about a leaders meeting.

A third source told Reuters the White House was “irate” over earlier reports that the Trump administration was considering a 60-day extension to the tariff deadline.

Lighthizer and Mnuchin left their Beijing hotel on Friday afternoon without taking questions from reporters.

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