American officials due in Beijing for talks on trade battle

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On its website, China's commerce ministry said the goal of the upcoming talks, to be held in Beijing on 7 and 8 January, will be "implementing the important consensus" reached by the two leaders. American officials worry those might erode USA industrial leadership, and complain that China's technological prowess is underpinned by the theft of intellectual property from US firms. Trump appears to have emphasized that he and President Xi Jinping are already part of the negotiations.

That agreement saw China commit to renewed purchases of United States agricultural goods like soybeans, in return for the delay of a fresh swathe of tariffs Washington was set to impose on Chinese goods. On Thursday, privately held grains trader Cargill announced worse-than-expected results out of China.

Their conflict is occurring against the backdrop of a slowdown in China and an expected USA slump that a prolonged trade war could worsen - a fear that's weighing on financial markets. Beijing responded by imposing penalties on $110 billion of American goods, slowing down customs clearance for US companies and suspending issuance of licenses in finance and other industries.

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Hassett said Asian economies including that of China have been slowing quite a bit since last spring and that China is "feeling the blow" of USA tariffs. A report in March by the U.S. Trade Representative accused China of hacking into U.S. companies' computer networks to steal secrets and coercing American companies to hand over technology as the price of admission to the Chinese market. For 2018, the Dow Jones Industrial Average - America's highest-profile stock market benchmark - fell almost 6 per cent, its worst performance since 2008. Growth is expected by the government to have eased to around 6.5 percent in 2018, down from 6.9 percent in 2017.

What was hailed just a year ago as an era when the world's major economies would all grow together has evolved in a more volatile direction, with the United States juiced along by tax cuts and government spending while the rest of the world sputters. In December, factory activity shrank for the first time in more than two years. Hassett says that Apple and other USA companies operating in China, will see their business return in the country if the US can have a successful negotiation with China.

USTR said the delegation will include USTR Chief Agricultural Negotiator Gregg Doud, USDA Under Secretary for Trade and Foreign Agricultural Affairs Ted McKinney, Department of Commerce Under Secretary for International Trade Gilbert Kaplan, Department of Energy Assistant Secretary for Fossil Energy Steven Winberg, and Treasury's Under Secretary for International Affairs David Malpass. There are fears of both sides hiking tariffs if no deal is reached. "However, these reasons can only take you so far..."

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