US Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross started to meet officials in Beijing on Saturday for talks on China's promise to buy more American goods after Washington revived tensions by renewing its threat of higher tariffs on mainland hi-tech exports.
Still, Beijing warned that any deal would be void if Washington went ahead with proposed tariffs. The U.S. says China's outsized production artificially depresses global metals prices, endangering U.S. national security by undermining its domestic steel industry.
The Chinese news agency Xinhua said the talks between Ross and Liu had made "positive and concrete progress", and had discussed agriculture and energy.
It referred instead to a consensus they reached last month in Washington, when China agreed to increase significantly its purchases of USA goods and services.
Last month, Trump had threatened punitive measures against Chinese goods if China doesn't cut down the trade deficit by Dollars 100 billion in a month and USD 200 billion by 2020.
Neither country has implemented the tariffs yet and continued discussions to find a way out of the impasse.
Wilbur Ross sounded upbeat on Sunday after having dinner the previous evening with China's Vice-Premier Liu He.
Mr Trump is pressing Beijing to narrow its politically volatile trade surplus with the United States, which reached a record $US375.2 billion ($495.7 billion) a year ago. In May it agreed to "significantly increase" purchases of farm goods, energy and other products and services following the last round of negotiations in Washington.
US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said the dispute was "on hold" and the tariff hike would be postponed.
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Mr Trump has threatened to raise tariffs on a total of up to $US150 billion ($198 billion) of Chinese goods.
He said Washington would use its move on Tuesday to slap punitive tariffs on Chinese imports as a bargaining chip.
"It has been a tense and tough G7 - I would say it's been far more a G6 plus one than a G7", said Le Maire, who called the tariffs unjustified.
The purchases are partly aimed at shrinking the $375bn United States goods trade deficit with China.
"But I also fundamentally believe that if there are structural changes that allow our companies to compete fairly, by definition, that will deal with the trade deficit alone".
On Saturday, Trump weighed in on the trade situation with other countries.
There was also anger at the G7 meeting of finance ministers after last weekend's decision by the USA to impose 25% steel tariffs and 10% aluminum duty on the EU, Canada and Mexico. Liu's delegation included China's central bank governor and commerce minister.
The U.S. team had also wanted to secure greater intellectual property protection and an end to Chinese subsidies that have contributed to overproduction of steel and aluminum.
That might alienate allies who share complaints about Chinese technology policy and a flood of low-cost steel, aluminum and other exports they say are the result of improper subsidies and hurt foreign competitors.