BEIJING, Feb 11 (AFP): US negotiators were in Beijing Monday for a new round of high-stakes trade talks, hoping to reach a deal before the March 1 deadline set by Donald Trump as the IMF warned of a possible global economic "storm".
Preliminary discussions had been expected to start on Monday, according to the White House, before US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin step in for the main event on Thursday and Friday.
In December, Washington suspended for three months its plan to increase tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese imports - to 25 per cent from the current 10 per cent - to allow time for negotiators to work out a trade spat that has triggered fears of a global economic slowdown.
Deputy trade representative Jeffrey Gerrish was due to lead the US delegation in preparatory meetings to begin on Monday, the White House had said.
The talks will include officials from the agriculture, energy and commerce departments.
Gerrish left his hotel in central Beijing on Monday morning without talking to the media. Neither side offered any confirmation that talks actually started.
Mnuchin and Lighthizer will be joined by David Malpass, Trump's nominee for president of the World Bank who has worked to limit the bank's assistance to Beijing.
The Chinese delegation will be led by Vice Premier Liu He, who will be joined by central bank governor Yi Gang.