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Upcoming US-China trade talk to focus on intellectual property rights

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US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin will lead the delegation

US President Donald Trump has suggested that he might extend the deadline for reaching a trade deal with China beyond March 1st, when additional US tariffs on a wide range of Chinese imports are set to go into effect.

USA and Chinese officials expressed hope on Monday (Feb 11) that this week's round of talks would bring them closer to easing their seven-month trade war.

Investors will be looking to see if both sides can hammer out a deal before a March 1st deadline to avert higher US tariffs on Chinese goods.

Mid-level officials began discussions Monday in preparation for two days of talks starting Thursday involving U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Chinese Vice Premier Liu He.

After that date, US tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese imports are scheduled to increase to 25 percent from 10 percent.

However, White House senior counselor Kellyanne Conway said on Monday a meeting was still possible soon, telling Fox News Channel that Trump wants a deal with China, but it must be "fair to Americans, and American workers and American interests". A round of talks at the end of January ended with some progress reported, but no deal and US declarations that much more work was needed.

Trump told reporters in January that he planned to meet Xi in late February, though he backtracked on that last week and said a gathering wouldn't take place this month.

A new round of trade talks between the USA and China begins in Beijing this week, with both sides hoping to reach a trade deal by the end of this month.

The US has imposed tariffs on $250bn (£193bn) worth of Chinese goods, and China has retaliated by imposing duties on $110bn of US products. According to a White House official, the delegates were preparing to focus more on pressing Beijing to gain a structural reform in China's business policy for the United States firms. It has fast-tracked approval of a law that would ban theft of intellectual property and forced technology transfers, but the question is how much more it can compromise.

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