U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said there is “a very good chance” that the United States and China will reach a trade agreement.
Ross told CNBC he is hopeful such a deal would address “all the key issues.”
Working-level trade talks between the United States and China began Monday in Beijing with negotiators for the world’s two biggest economies trying to resolve tariff disputes that have roiled world markets in recent weeks.
In a sign the meeting was off to a good start, China’s economic czar, Vice Premier Liu He, dropped by the talks on Monday to encourage the negotiators.
While Chinese officials expressed optimism at the start of the two-day talks, Beijing at the same time complained about the sighting of the U.S.S. McCampbell, a warship, in what it said were Chinese waters near disputed islands in the South China Sea.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang said China had made “stern complaints” with the United States about the sighting of the destroyer, but the trade talks went ahead as scheduled.
There was no immediate U.S. response to the Chinese complaint.
Few details have emerged from the trade talks, which are scheduled to run through Tuesday.
The trade talks are the result of an agreement last month between U.S. President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping to stop the tit-for-tat tariff conflict between the two countries for 90 days starting on New Year’s Day.
Trump said last week, “I think we’ll have a deal with China.”
Lu said the two countries have agreed to hold “positive and constructive” discussions.
“From the beginning we have believed that China U.S. trade friction is not a positive situation for either country or the world economy,” Lu said. “China has the good faith, on the basis of mutual respect and equality, to resolve the bilateral trade frictions.”
The talks are occurring as Chinese growth — 6.5 percent in the July-to-September period — fell to its lowest point in a decade. There are concerns that U.S. growth, 3.4 percent in the third quarter, is also slowing even as the country’s unemployment rate remains nearly at a five-decade low.
Even so, Lu said, “China’s development has ample tenacity and huge potential. We have firm confidence in the strong long-term fundamentals of the Chinese economy.”
The United States has long complained about access to the vast Chinese market and Beijing’s demands U.S. companies reveal their technology advances.