American and Chinese negotiators are working on a number of memorandums of understanding that would form the basis of a final trade deal, according to a person briefed on the progress.
The MoUs would cover areas including agriculture, non-tariff barriers, services, technology transfer and intellectual property, according to the person, who asked not to be identified because the discussions are private.
How these agreements would be enforced remains unclear, but would likely be a threat that tariffs would be reimposed if conditions are not adhered to, the person said.
There is an effort underway to potentially extend a March 1 deadline for U.S. tariffs to rise on Chinese goods. Liu He, China’s chief negotiator, is expected to meet with U.S. President Donald Trump on Friday, according to a another person familiar with the negotiations.
The U.S. is also asking China to keep the value of the yuan stable so that it may neutralize any effort by Beijing to devalue its currency to counter U.S. tariffs. The Chinese government spokesman said on Wednesday that the nation wouldn’t use the yuan as a tool to deal with trade dispute.
Gao Feng, spokesman for China’s Ministry of Commerce, said at a briefing Thursday that he had no details regarding any MoU being discussed with the U.S.
While President Trump has been most vocal on bilateral trade deficit with China. The U.S. also has numerous issues with China’s economic and trade policies, and the administration is pushing for what it terms “fair and reciprocal” trade.
The question of technology transfers and protection for U.S. intellectual property has been one of the most contentious in the negotiations. The U.S. is accusing China of stealing the results of U.S. research and development to advance its own development, and also of forcing U.S. firms to give their technology to Chinese companies to gain access to China’s market.
China denies the theft and cyber-hacking allegations. They also claim that they have never forced companies to provide technology for access, but they have started debating a law to make that practice illegal.