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US seeks fresh trade talks with China

The Trump administration has invited Chinese officials to restart trade talks as Washington prepares to further escalate the US-China trade war with tariffs on $US200 billion ($A279 billion) worth of Chinese goods.

Larry Kudlow, who heads the White House Economic Council, told Fox Business Network that US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin had sent an invitation to senior Chinese officials, but he declined to provide further details.

"There's some discussions and information that we received that the Chinese government - the top of the Chinese government wished to pursue talks," Kudlow said. "And so, Secretary Mnuchin, who is the team leader with China, has apparently issued an invitation."

Two people familiar with the effort said Mnuchin's invitation was sent to his Chinese counterparts, including Vice Premier Liu He, the top economic adviser to Chinese President Xi Jinping, for talks in coming weeks.

China's Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said on Thursday the government received an invitation from the United States and welcomed it.

"China has always held that an escalation of the trade conflict is not in anyone's interests. In fact, from last month's preliminary talks in Washington, the two sides' trade talk teams have maintained various forms of contact, and held discussions on the concerns of each side," he said.

The invitation comes amid a swelling chorus of opposition to tariffs from Western business circles.

On Thursday, the US business lobbies AmCham China and AmCham Shanghai published a joint survey showing that the negative impact on US companies in China of tit-for-tat tariffs Washington and Beijing have imposed on one another was "clear and far reaching".

More than 60 per cent of US companies polled said the US tariffs were already affecting their business operations, while a similar percentage said Chinese duties on US goods were having an impact on business.

AmCham China and AmCham Shanghai urged the Trump administration to rethink its approach.

The European Union Chamber of Commerce in China released its own survey on Thursday saying the tariffs were causing "significant disruptions" to global supply chains and "seriously impacting" non-Chinese and non-American companies.

The Trump administration is preparing to activate tariffs on $US200 billion worth of Chinese goods, hitting a broad array of internet technology products and consumer goods from handbags to bicycles to furniture.

Kudlow earlier told reporters outside the White House that communications with Beijing had "picked up a notch."

"I think most of us think it's better to talk than not to talk, and I think the Chinese government is willing to talk," Kudlow said.

Austrlaian Associated PressBack to Breaking News

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