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US-China trade tensions appear to be in a 'de-escalatory' stage, says Morgan Stanley

Key Points
  • It looks like Chinese negotiators are eager to get an agreement fully and tightly drafted before President Xi Jinping travels to the U.S. to sign it in the months ahead, said Jonathan Garner, Morgan Stanley's chief equity strategist for Asia and emerging markets.
  • The latest round of talks between both countries continued in Beijing on Thursday. After that, both sides are expected to hold meetings in Washington starting April 3.
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US, China are in a 'de-escalatory' environment: Morgan Stanley

Trade negotiations between the U.S. and China appear to have reached a stage where they look to be "really working line by line on a document," said a Morgan Stanley strategist on Thursday.

"Prior to (early December,) we had been in a continually escalatory environment, (but) we are now in a de-escalatory environment, hopefully heading to the signature of a document," said Jonathan Garner, Morgan Stanley's chief equity strategist for Asia and emerging markets.

The latest round of talks between both countries continued in Beijing on Thursday. After that, both sides are expected to hold meetings in Washington starting April 3. The two largest economies in the world are negotiating a trade deal after a tariff fight that started last year.

It looks like Chinese negotiators are eager to get an agreement fully and tightly drafted before Chinese President Xi Jinping travels to the U.S. to sign it in the months ahead, Garner told CNBC's "Street Signs."

Garner's comments came after Chinese Premier Li Keqiang said at the Boao Forum for Asia that China will widen market access for foreign banking and insurance firms, and expand the opening of the services sector — especially the financial sector — to foreign investors.

Li's latest comments on Beijing opening up markets to foreign investment signals "concrete action" that the world's second largest economy is taking to address Washington's concerns in the ongoing bilateral trade dispute, said Garner.

"Last summer, the approach from China was solely on the bilateral trade deficit. This is all part of a kind of re-energized reform and opening up in China right now," said Garner.

— Reuters contributed to this report.