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US, China remain 'very far apart' on trade, says US ambassador

The U.S. wants China to provide a timetable of how it will open up its markets to American exports as the two countries remain "very far apart" on resolving trade tensions, Reuters reported, citing U.S. Ambassador to China Terry Branstad ahead of the second round of bilateral talks in Washington.

A high-level delegation led by Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin visited Beijing in early May with demands such as shrinking China's bilateral trade surplus by $200 billion, but the two countries failed to reach an agreement.

Branstad, who was at the Beijing meeting, said the Chinese seemed to be "taken back" by the significance of the list. "The Chinese have said 'we want to see the specifics.' We gave them all the specifics in terms of trade issues."

"We're still very far apart," he said, adding that China has not met promises to open up its insurance and financial services area, as well as reduce auto tariffs.

"We want to see a timetable. We want to see these things happen sooner than later," Reuters quoted Branstad as saying at a conference in Tokyo. He also said U.S. President Donald Trump would want to see a "dramatic increase" in food exports to China.

Branstad said the U.S. could drop proposed tariffs on $50 billion of Chinese goods if China further opened up its agricultural and auto markets. "I think it could be adjusted," he said. "It's possible, depending upon how the trade talks go."

Bilateral talks will continue in Washington in the week of May 14 with Liu He, China's vice-premier and Chinese President Xi Jinping's top economic adviser, set to arrive May 15, and Branstad said increasing U.S. exports of liquefied natural gas could be part of the discussions.