China warns USA against imposing trade sanctions as talks end

Saul Bowman
June 4, 2018

The talks, led by US Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross and China's Vice Premier Liu He ended without a joint statement or either side releasing details of the negotiations.

"Both sides appear to have hardened their negotiating stances and are waiting for the other side to blink", said Eswar Prasad, professor of trade policy at Cornell University.

Ross said USA and Chinese officials have discussed specific American export items Beijing might buy as part of its pledge to narrow its trade surplus with the United States.

"China is willing to increase imports from all countries in the world including the United States", the statement said.

However, the Trump administration's announcement late Tuesday that it would impose 25 percent tariffs on $50 billion worth of Chinese technology by the end of this month cast doubt on trade talks between the two countries, the AP noted.

But Beijing has said it reserves the right to retaliate if Washington goes ahead with a threatened tariff hike on other Chinese goods. "These talks have produced positive and concrete developments, though details are still being finalized".

China has threatened to dash any trade agreements struck with the United States in recent weeks if President Donald Trump moves ahead with his threat to level tariff hikes against Chinese goods.

The White House also said it will pursue tighter restrictions on Chinese investments and enhance export controls to protect United States technology and intellectual property.

There was no immediate comment or statement from the USA delegation or from Ross himself.

Ross did not speak to reporters in the lobby of his Beijing hotel on Saturday afternoon. But Chinese envoys promised after the last high-level meeting in Washington in mid-May to buy more American farm goods and energy products.

"Our meetings so far have been friendly and frank, and covered some useful topics about specific export items", Ross told the media after dining with Liu on Saturday evening.

China also said it won't be pushed into making major changes to its economic policies. China slammed the "flip-flop", vowing to hit back should the US tariff threat materialize.

As the trade dispute threatened to blow up into a full scale "war", US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin came under fire from the European Union at the Group of Seven, or G7, meeting of finance leaders in the Canadian ski resort of Whistler. "If there are structural changes that allow our companies to compete fairly, by definition that will deal with the trade deficit alone".

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

While many countries share US frustration with Chinese trade and economic practices, critics of USA policy under Trump have warned that Washington risks alienating the European Union, Canada and Mexico with 25 percent tariffs on steel and 10 percent on aluminum. Although the Chinese refused to agree to specific numerical targets that the Trump administration officials sought, the agreement to a broad framework to increase USA exports to China was enough to prompt Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin to announce that a truce in the "trade war". Germany is also hoping its steel exports to the United States will be exempted from sanctions.

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