US and China to set up working group to discuss trade tension

Countries also establish 'export control enforcement information exchange' to help reduce misunderstandings over US security policy

US Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo has emphasised the importance of a stable economic relationship with China during talks in Beijing. Getty Images
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The US and China are to establish a new working group to discuss trade tension in the latest effort by President Joe Biden's administration to improve relations with America's biggest economic competitor.

US Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo and China's Commerce Minister Wang Wentao reached an agreement in Beijing on Monday.

The working group will “seek solutions on trade and investment issues and to advance US commercial interests in China”, the US Commerce Department said in a readout.

It said the working group would meet twice a year.

The US and China also agreed to establish an “export control enforcement information exchange” that would aim to clear up misunderstandings of “US national security policies”.

Ms Raimondo also plans to hold annual meetings with Mr Wang.

“We share $700 billion of trade and I concur with you that it is profoundly important that we have a stable economic relationship,” Ms Raimondo said in a separate readout.

Mr Wang described the US-China relationship as complicated and challenging, but expressed optimism that progress could be made if the two sides were “direct, open and practical”.

Ms Raimondo arrived in China on August 27 and will remain until August 30. Trade relations between the countries had been a point of tension between Washington and Beijing.

Mr Biden this month signed an order barring US investment in China's technology sector that his administration characterised as a national security action.

He also hosted the leaders of South Korea and Japan at Camp David, where they agreed to military, technological and health co-operation aimed at countering Chinese influence in the Indo-Pacific region.

The US has sent several high-ranking officials to China in recent months to help ease tension.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen and presidential climate envoy John Kerry all met Beijing officials after relations soured over the previous 12 months.

Mr Biden may meet Chinese President Xi Jinping in September at the G20 summit in New Delhi.

The two leaders could also meet in November at the Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation forum in San Francisco.

Agencies contributed to this report

Updated: August 28, 2023, 3:46 PM