BEIJING — China’s government said Thursday it has made plans with Washington for talks in January aimed at ending a tariff battle that threatens to depress global trade.

The two sides have “made specific arrangements for face-to-face meetings” and are talking by phone, said a Ministry of Commerce spokesman, Gao Feng. Gao gave no details.

Presidents Trump and Xi Jinping agreed Dec. 1 to postpone more tariff increases for 90 days while their governments negotiate over U.S. complaints Beijing steals or pressures foreign companies to hand over technology.

Trump agreed to postpone tariff hikes on $200 billion of Chinese imports planned for Jan. 1. Beijing responded by announcing a delay in a 25 percent duty on imported U.S. vehicles.

Preparations for talks have proceeded despite the Dec. 1 arrest in Canada of an executive of Chinese tech giant Huawei on U.S. charges related to possible violations of trade sanctions on Iran.

Companies and investors worry the dispute might depress global trade at a time of rising anxiety about signs economic growth might be slowing.

The two sides are maintaining “close communication,” Gao said.

On Jan. 7, Deputy U.S. Trade Representative Jeffrey Gerrish will lead the Trump administration’s team at the talks, which will also include Treasury Under Secretary for International Affairs David Malpass, according to sources who spoke on the condition of anonymity. Neither the USTR nor Treasury responded to requests for comment.

Next month’s meeting will be the first face-to-face discussion the two sides have held since Trump and Xi Jinping agreed on a 90-day truce in Argentina this month. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said last week the U.S. team and its counterparts have held discussions over the phone.

The meeting adds to signs that the world’s two largest economies are making progress in cooling trade tensions.

Although Chinese and U.S. officials have been in constant contact since the meeting between Trump and Xi in Argentina, China has not been clear on the specifics of what the U.S. has said it wants from them, according to two people in Beijing with knowledge of the talks.

China, meanwhile, wants the U.S. to remove the punitive tariffs that have been imposed and not add new ones, but suspects the U.S. will ask for more before it agrees to do that, the people said.

Publicly, Trump is pushing the Asian nation to reduce trade barriers and stop alleged theft of intellectual property. Beijing so far has pledged to resume buying American soybeans and to at least temporarily lower retaliatory tariffs on U.S. autos.

While next month’s meeting is a positive development, the two sides are not on track to make the kind of large-scale breakthrough that the Trump administration is seeking, according to Derek Scissors, a China expert at the American Enterprise Institute.

“The failure of cabinet-level officials to even meet in the first half of the 90-day period makes it impossible to anticipate fundamental change on the Chinese side,” he said.

Trump said after returning from his South American meeting with Xi that U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer would be in charge of the China talks. Lighthizer, who isn’t scheduled to join the delegation in China, left no wiggle room for the two countries to extend talks beyond 90 days, saying this month that March 1 was a “hard deadline” that was endorsed by Trump.

“When I talk to the president of the United States he is not talking about going beyond March. He is talking about getting a deal if there is a deal to be done in the next 90 days,” Lighthizer told CBS on Dec. 9.

But Trump and other members of his trade team, including National Economic Council Director Larry Kudlow, have said they could further delay an escalation in tariffs if the two sides made sufficient progress.