China has delivered a written response to USA demands for wide-ranging trade reforms, three United States government sources said on Wednesday, a move that could trigger more formal negotiations to resolve a withering trade war between the world's top economies.
The two sides have raised tariffs on billions of dollars of each other's goods in a dispute over Beijing's technology policy.
Ross said that the U.S. is still planning on 1 January to increase tariffs to 25% on some $200 billion in goods from China that became subject to a 10% import tax in September.
Trump and Xi are scheduled to meet in the coming weeks on the sidelines of a leaders summit for the Group of 20 nations in Buenos Aires, Argentina. However, the sources gave no details and it was not clear if the response contained concessions that would satisfy President Trump.
While 2 industry sources familiar with the contents of the response told Reuters it was largely a restatement of previous Chinese commitments, it was seen as a necessary starting point for continued negotiations.
"The president's attitude is, we want to make sure they know where we stand, what we are prepared to do, so they can come to Argentina with concrete proposals that address not just the trade deficit that we face".
The Chinese document was said to include 142 items divided into three categories: issues the Chinese are willing to negotiate for further action, issues they are already working on and issues they consider off limits.
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Liu spoke by phone on Friday, according to people briefed on the matter, who asked not to be named due to the sensitivity of the topic.
"High-level contacts between the two sides on economics and trade have resumed following the November 1 conversation between the Chinese and American heads of state", said Gao.
"The two countries' economic teams are in touch to implement the consensus reached by the two leaders", Chinese Assistant Commerce Minister Li Chenggang said at a news briefing in Beijing on Tuesday.
One person said that talks were continuing and were constructive. It's unlikely a decision is imminent, according to a U.S. official.
On the USA side, the discussions are being led by Mnuchin and the Treasury.
The United States Vice President Mike Pence has warned Beijing to change its behavior in order to avoid a cold war with the US.
Pence also said China must offer concessions on intellectual property theft, forced technology transfer, restricted access to Chinese markets, respect for worldwide rules and norms, and efforts to limit freedom of navigation in global waters, among other issues.
It is too early to tell whether China's offer would be sufficient to preclude an increase in United States tariffs at the start of 2019, he said.
Washington should "respect China's sovereignty, security and development interest, as well as the path of development chosen by the Chinese people", said the spokeswoman, Hua Chunying.
Chinese exports to the United States have held up despite the tariffs, rising more than 13 per cent over a year earlier each month since the first increases in July.
Many American manufacturers, farmers and lawmakers from both sides of the aisle say they appreciate the administration's efforts to change China's economic policies.