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UPDATE: Mnuchin reportedly confirms partial trade deal as China seeks more talks


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UPDATE: Mnuchin reportedly confirms partial trade deal as China seeks more talks

Washington insisted that some form of a trade agreement with China was reached, a claim that Beijing has yet to officially confirm, after reports emerged that China sought more talks to finalize the details.

U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Oct. 14 that the countries had reached a "fundamental agreement" on trade that remained "subject to documentation," CNBC reported.

President Donald Trump previously said phase one of the deal would take five weeks to write, while the second phase would begin "almost immediately." In an interview with CNBC, Mnuchin said the latest round of negotiations yielded "substantial progress" in the U.S.-China trade dispute.

China on Oct. 12 also confirmed "substantial progress" in agriculture and intellectual property, among other areas, but did not mention a deal being reached. China said the two sides discussed ways for "follow-up consultation."

Beijing was eyeing further discussions as soon as the end of the month ahead of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in November in Chile, where a deal could be signed, according to Bloomberg News, which cited people familiar with the matter.

This suggests that sticking points remain, according to Julian Evans-Pritchard, senior China economist at Capital Economics, adding that resolving structural issues is still an "uphill battle."

"Until we see more concrete evidence that the demands and red lines of both sides have shifted enough to make a broader resolution possible, we are sticking with our view that trade tensions will re-escalate in the coming months," Evans-Pritchard said in a research note.

Trump said Oct. 11 that the partial deal included $40 billion to $50 billion in new agriculture trade as well as provisions on intellectual property and financial services. The agreement prevents a rise in tariffs on Chinese goods from taking effect tomorrow, though the levies scheduled to go into effect Dec. 15 remain on the table.

A source told Bloomberg that China wants the scheduled tariff hike in December to be dropped as well, a demand that the U.S. side has not yet agreed to. Evans-Pritchard expects the U.S. to proceed with the December tariff hike on Chinese goods.

Mnuchin said the December hike in U.S. levies would kick in if no deal is reached by that time. "But I expect we'll have a deal," he told CNBC.

"We think there are probably some important disagreements on the terms of a deal, which could include the yuan mechanism," Iris Pang, Greater China Economist at ING, commented on the partial agreement.