You are using an older browser version. Please use a supported version for the best MSN experience.

China hopes U.S. will create conditions necessary for September trade talks

Reuters logo Reuters 29/08/2019
Steven Mnuchin et al. standing next to a man wearing a suit and tie: US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin in China © Reuters/POOL New US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin in China

BEIJING (Reuters) - China and the United States are discussing the next round of face-to-face trade talks scheduled in September, but hopes for progress hinge on whether Washington can create favourable conditions, China's commerce ministry said on Thursday.

In the latest tit-for-tat escalation of the trade war between the world's two largest economies, U.S. President Donald Trump last Friday said he would heap an additional duty of 5% on about $550 billion (£448 billion) in targeted Chinese goods.

The move came hours after China had unveiled retaliatory tariffs on $75-billion worth of U.S. goods.

China hopes the United States can cancel the planned additional tariffs to avoid an escalation in the trade war, its commerce ministry spokesman, Gao Feng, told reporters on Thursday.

"The most important thing at the moment is to create necessary conditions for both sides to continue negotiations," he said during a weekly briefing, adding that China was lodging "solemn representation" with the United States.

Illustration photo of U.S. dollar and China yuan notes © Reuters/Thomas White Illustration photo of U.S. dollar and China yuan notes

For two years, the Trump administration has sought to pressure China to eliminate what it calls unfair trade practices and make sweeping changes to its policies on intellectual property protection, forced transfers of technology to Chinese firms, industrial subsidies and market access.

Donald Trump wearing a suit and tie: G7 summit in Biarritz © Reuters/CHRISTIAN HARTMANN G7 summit in Biarritz

But China has constantly denied such accusations, vowing to fight back in kind and criticizing U.S. measures as protectionist.

Gao said China had "ample" countermeasures to retaliate against the planned U.S. tariffs, but talks in the current circumstances should focus on whether the tariffs could be cancelled.

He did not answer directly when asked if his remarks suggested China would not retaliate against the latest U.S. tariff threat.

China has repeatedly said it would have no choice but to retaliate if the United States followed through on its threat.

On Monday, Trump predicted a trade deal with China, saying he believed it was sincere about wanting to reach a deal, citing what he called increasing economic pressure on Beijing and job losses there.

Trump cited as a positive sign comments by Vice Premier Liu He, who has been leading the talks with Washington, that China was willing to resolve the dispute through "calm" negotiations.

He repeated his assertion that Chinese officials had contacted U.S. trade counterparts overnight, offering to resume negotiations, a statement that China declined to confirm.

Gao also declined to provide any detail when asked if there had been a call this week between Beijing and Washington.

"As far as I know, both trade teams have maintained effective communication," he said.

In July 2018, the U.S.-China trade dispute boiled over in tariffs on hundreds of billions of dollars' worth of each other's goods and threatens to engulf all trade between the countries, putting global growth at risk.

"We hope the United States will show sincerity and concrete actions," Gao said.

(Reporting by Stella Qiu and Se Young Lee; Writing by Yawen Chen; Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore and Clarence Fernandez)

AdChoices
AdChoices

More From Reuters

image beaconimage beaconimage beacon