Friday, 17 August, 2018

China warns US against tariffs as trade talks end

Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross hints a trade war could be the result of new EU privacy laws given that the regulations include'unnecessary barriers to trade. If that happens it would be an additional front in a global trade war the President Donald Trum Talks end with China warning trade benefits at risk if US imposes tariffs
Glenn Montgomery | 04 June, 2018, 09:31

Ross arrived in Beijing on Saturday for trade talks after the Trump administration renewed tariff threats against China, and with key USA allies in a foul mood towards Washington after they were hit with duties on steel and aluminium.

Beijing said "positive and concrete progress" was made on those issues with details left for "both sides to finalise".

The warning came after delegations led by U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross and China's top economic official Vice Premiere Liu He wrapped up a meeting on Beijing's pledge to narrow its trade surplus.

It referred instead to a consensus they reached last month in Washington, when China agreed to increase significantly its purchases of us goods and services.

But this time no joint statement was issued.

Trade tensions between the USA and China, the world's two largest economies, had intensified in April after Beijing said it was slapping duties on 106 American imports following Washington's plans to put new tariff on hundreds of Chinese items.

Mnuchin had been part of the first trade delegation to Beijing, which sought to pressure China to cut $US200 billion from its USA trade surplus and stop promoting Chinese technology companies if Beiing wanted to avoid a trade war. "This is about structural changes", Mnuchin said Saturday.

"The outcome of the talks should be based on the prerequisite that the two parties meet each other halfway and will not engage in a trade war", official news agency, Xinhua reported quoting from the statement.

Gai Xinzhe, an analyst at Bank of China's finance institute in Beijing, told Bloomberg that "China is concerned over the U.S.'s unpredictability, especially after Trump turned an about-face on tariffs".

The renewed push for Chinese tariffs coincides with Washington's announcement last week that it would implement duties on steel and aluminum for other key allies.

"Tariffs and expanding exports - the United States can't have both", it said.

Private sector analysts say while Beijing is willing to compromise on its trade surplus, it will resist changes that might threaten plans to transform China into a global technology competitor.

China too threatened a tit-for-tat retaliation but blinked in the end with a categorical undertaking to import more goods from the USA, sparking off concerns over the likely trade war between the two countries.

"I want to be clear, this isn't just about [China] buying more goods, this is about structural changes", Mnuchin said.

"Our meetings so far have been friendly and frank, and covered some useful topics about specific export items", Ross said, in brief comments to reporters. Germany is also hoping its steel exports to the USA will be exempted from sanctions.

It comes at the end of a week in which the E.U., Canada and Mexico also threatened retaliation if they were faced with trade tariffs by the U.S.

French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire compared Washington's action to something out of the old "Wild West".

The European Union lodged a complaint with the World Trade Organisation last week over China's technology transfer practices, targeting a similar concern to that which has prompted the Trump administration's more unorthodox use of national security law to trigger punitive tariffs against China.

Trade analysts had warned Ross's hand might be weakened if the Trump administration alienated allies who share complaints about Chinese technology policy and a flood of low-cost steel, aluminum and other exports.

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