Trump officials heading to China for trade talks next week

President TrumpDonald John TrumpDemocrats' CNN town halls exposed an extreme agenda Buttigieg says he doubts Sanders can win general election Post-Mueller, Trump has a good story to tell for 2020 MORE is sending Trade Representative Robert LighthizerRobert (Bob) Emmet LighthizerChinese, US negotiators fine-tuning details of trade agreement: report The Trump economy keeps roaring ahead Trump says no discussion of extending deadline in Chinese trade talks MORE and Treasury Secretary Steven MnuchinSteven Terner MnuchinThe Hill's Morning Report - Will Joe Biden's unifying strategy work? Lighthizer, Mnuchin to travel to China for latest round of trade talks On The Money: Treasury misses second Dem deadline on Trump tax returns | Waters renews calls for impeachment | Dem wants Fed pick to apologize for calling Ohio cities 'armpits of America' | Stocks reach record high after long recovery MORE to China next week, the White House announced Saturday, as Washington and Beijing try to mend their trade relationship following a months-long trade war last year.

Lighthizer and Mnuchin, along with Deputy U.S. Trade Representative Jeffrey Gerrish and other senior officials, are traveling to Beijing on Thursday to begin principal-level trade talks with Chinese representatives. The White House also announced that a Chinese delegation led by Vice Premier Liu He will arrive in Washington on April 3.

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Trump has expressed optimism that the U.S. and China are close to reaching a deal to end a trade dispute that has seen billions of dollars of tit-for-tat tariffs slapped on both countries.

“I think a lot of people are waiting for the deal with China. I think that’s going to have a very big impact,” he said in an interview on Fox Business that aired Friday. 

“As to whether or not it makes it, I think it will. I think we’re getting very close. That doesn’t mean we get there, but I think we’re getting very close.”

Washington and Beijing agreed in December to hit pause on any new tariffs in an agreement that also included an unquantified Chinese purchase of agricultural and industrial goods. The détente was further extended in February, with Trump citing “substantial progress” in talks.

However, Lighthizer told Congress last month that finalizing a trade agreement with Beijing is only the first step of a long process to rectify concerns with China’s overall trade policy.

“We might be able to have an agreement that helps us turn the corner in our economic relationship with China,” Lighthizer told the House Ways and Means Committee, warning that “there’s not going to be one negotiation” that solves the dispute altogether.

“I believe other problems are going to arise and they’ll have to be dealt with,” Lighthizer added.

The U.S.-China trade relationship deteriorated last year after Trump imposed a series of tariffs accumulating to roughly $250 billion in imports from China. Beijing responded with retaliatory levies against U.S. agricultural exports worth billions of dollars that targeted products exported from Trump-supporting states.