US President Donald Trump speaks while meeting with China’s Vice Premier Liu He in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, DC [File: Jonathan Ernst/Reuters]

A week ago, it looked like the world’s two biggest economies were close to resolving their ongoing trade dispute. Now, the United States and China are teetering on the verge of a fresh escalation, with another round of punishing tariff hikes on Chinese goods set to take effect on Friday.

Eleventh-hour negotiations got underway on Thursday between a high-level Chinese delegation led by Vice Premier Liu He and US negotiators led by Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer.

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Pressure to salvage a trade deal between the two sides ratcheted up on Wednesday after the US formally

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