U.S. Hints at China Talks Progress as Trump Riles Trade Allies

U.S. Hints at China Talks Progress as Trump Riles Trade Allies

Kerry Wise
June 3, 2018

Ross was accompanied by agricultural, treasury and trade officials.

China on Sunday threatened retaliation against the USA during a round of trade talks, saying that economic and trade deals negotiated by the two countries would become "void" should Washington impose new sanctions.

No joint statement was issued at the end of Sunday's meeting in Beijing, and there has been no response to the Chinese comments by the United States side.

Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross leaves a hotel ahead of trade talks with Chinese officials in Beijing, June 2, 2018.

China had promised at talks in Washington last month to significantly increase its imports of United States goods in an effort to reduce the massive trade imbalance between the two countries that Trump has frequently railed against.

He's threatening to hike duties on up to $150 billion of Chinese imports.

The statement gave few details on the talks, but it made clear that China would not deliver on commitments to buy more American goods if its exports are sanctioned.

The purchases are partly aimed at shrinking the $375bn U.S. goods trade deficit with China.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, who announced the tariff truce with China, said at the G7 summit in Canada that the USA was pushing for "structural changes" to the Chinese economy.

Ross, who was preceded in Beijing this week by more than 50 USA officials, was expected during the two-day visit to try to secure long-term purchases of US farm and energy commodities to help shrink a $375 billion trade deficit with China.

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There was no immediate comment from the United States delegation.

China's delegation included central bank governor Yi Gang, commerce minister Zhong Shan, and Ning Jizhe, a deputy head of the powerful planning body the National Development and Reform Commission.

"Our meetings so far have been friendly and frank, and covered some useful topics about specific export items", Ross said.

Ross, who was preceded in Beijing last week by more than 50 U.S. officials, is expected during the two-day visit to try to secure long-term purchases of USA farm and energy commodities to help shrink the United States trade deficit.

Ross and Liu held a working dinner Saturday ahead of their talks.

There was no indication whether the talks also would take up American complaints that Beijing steals or pressures foreign companies.

Beijing has resisted U.S. pressure to commit to a firm target of narrowing its annual surplus with the United States by $US200 billion ($264 billion).

Trump's announcement that he wanted to proceed with tariffs on China came less than two weeks after the two countries had said they were putting threats of tariffs on hold while they continued negotiating.

The visit comes as fears of an all-out global trade war intensified after the European Union, Canada and Mexico drew up retaliatory measures to Washington's stinging steel and aluminium tariffs that came into effect on Friday.

That might alienate allies who share complaints about Chinese technology policy and a flood of low-cost steel, aluminum and other exports they say are the result of improper subsidies and hurt foreign competitors.