China and the US have agreed to hold high-level trade talks in early October in Washington, China's commerce ministry said, amid fears that an escalating trade war could trigger a global economic recession. 

The announcement followed a call earlier in the day between China's Vice Premier Liu He and US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, the Ministry of Commerce said. 

China's central bank governor Yi Gang was also on the call. 

"Both sides agreed that they should work together and take practical actions to create good conditions for consultations," the ministry said. 

Trade teams from the two countries will hold talks in mid-September before the high-level talks next month, the ministry said. Both sides agreed to take actions to create favourable conditions, it said. 

A spokesman for the US Trade Representative's office confirmed that Lighthizer and Mnuchin spoke with Liu and said they agreed to hold ministerial-level trade talks in Washington "in the coming weeks". 

The US began imposing 15% tariffs on an array of Chinese imports on Sunday, while China began placing new duties on US crude oil. 

China has lodged a complaint against the US at the World Trade Organization. 

The US plans to increase the tariff rate to 30% from the 25% duty already in place on $250 billion worth of Chinese imports from October 1. 

US President Donald Trump warned this week he would be tougher on Beijing in a second term if trade talks dragged on, compounding market fears that ongoing trade disputes between the US and China could trigger a US recession. 

Chinese leaders will have a packed schedule next month, gearing up for National Day celebrations scheduled for October 1. 

They will also hold a key meeting in October to discuss improving governance and "perfecting" the country's socialist system, state media has said, more than a year after the last was held.