WASHINGTON: Washington and Beijing are "miles and miles" from resolving their trade war, US Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said Thursday.
A high-level Chinese delegation is due in Washington next week as both sides work to reach a resolution ahead before March 1, when US duty rates on Chinese imports are due to rise sharply.
"There's been a lot of anticipatory work done but we're miles and miles from getting a resolution and that shouldn't be too surprising," Ross told CNBC.
Wall Street futures suddenly fell during his remarks, which came a day after the White House had moved to rebut media reports that the China trade talks had hit serious obstacles.
While much work remained to be done, Ross added there was still "a fair chance" of reaching a deal, while noting that the dispute involved issues that were difficult to address in a short timeframe.
"I believe China would like to make a deal. I believe we would like to make a deal but it has to be a deal that works for both parties," he said.
"I'm trying to say people shouldn't think the events of next week will be the solution to all of the issues between the United States and China."
Washington and Beijing since last year have exchanged tit-for-tat tariffs on more than USD 360 billion in two-way trade, putting downward pressure on the Chinese economy, where growth is slowing.
Washington accuses Beijing of a host of alleged unfair trading practices, including massive state intervention in markets and industry and the theft of American technological know-how.