July 10, 2019 11:45 AM, EDT

US, China’s Top Trade Officials Make First Contact Since Truce

ChinaU.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer (Anna Moneymaker/Bloomberg News)

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U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin spoke on the phone with their Chinese counterparts as the two sides relaunch trade talks, marking the first high-level contact since their presidents agreed to a tentative truce last month.

The American officials spoke to Chinese Vice Premier Liu He and Commerce Minister Zhong Shan on July 9, according to an e-mailed statement from a U.S. government official who declined to be named in line with policy. Both sides will continue these talks as appropriate, the official said, without offering more details on the next steps.

President Donald Trump and Chinese leader Xi Jinping agreed to a tentative pause in their almost yearlong trade war after meeting at the Group-of-20 leaders’ summit in Japan on June 29, and they directed their negotiators to find a path forward on a deal. The leaders didn’t outline a time frame for negotiations or a deadline to finalize a trade deal.

Under the ceasefire, Trump agreed to postpone new tariffs on about $300 billion of Chinese imports, though he left in place the existing 25% duty on about $260 billion of Chinese products. The U.S. president also said he would allow U.S. companies to resume supplying some of their products to Huawei Technologies Co., but added that the Chinese telecommunications-gear-making giant would remain on a Commerce Department trade blacklist over national security concerns.

On July 9, White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow said at an event in Washington that the U.S. government would ease restrictions on Huawei by relaxing the licensing requirements from Commerce. He added that Xi had agreed with Trump to scale up purchases of American products, including soybeans and wheat, along with possibly energy as part of a “good-faith” move to show how open China is to resolving trade differences.