China: Smaller trade surplus with US is OK

06 June, 2018, 01:47 | Author: Salvatore Jensen
  • Navy Rim of the Pacific Exercise

U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross arrived in Beijing on Saturday for talks on China's promise to buy more American goods after Washington revived tensions by renewing its threat of tariff hikes on Chinese high-tech exports.

China has threatened to withdraw from its previously agreed commitments with Washington to cut its bilateral trade deficit on goods with the United States if President Donald Trump moves ahead with tariffs on $50bn-worth of Chinese products. Beijing said "positive and concrete progress" was made on those issues with details left for "both sides to finalise".

The warning came following a meeting between US Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross and Chinese Vice Premier Liu He in Beijing.

At the end of last month's Washington talks the two countries released a joint statement.

But a short time later China issued a statement through the Xinhua news agency, saying, "If the United States introduces trade sanctions including a tariff increase, all the economic and trade achievements negotiated by the two parties will not take effect". "As a fine friend and ally of the United States, nobody denies that". For example, Republican Senator Marco Rubio (one of Trump's competitors for the 2016 presidential nomination) tweeted, "Sadly #China is out-negotiating the administration & winning the trade talks right now".

China is set to boost its imports of cotton by issuing additional import quotas to mills, said the China Cotton Association on Monday, a move seen by the market as another step toward meeting the demands of top exporter the United States. Mnuchin, who announced the truce in mid-May, has been at loggerheads with more protectionist-minded Trump administration figures.

Analysts had noted in recent weeks a seesawing of U.S. demands of China, that may reflect division among Trump's inner circle on whether reducing the trade deficit, demanding structural change to China's economy or addressing forced technology transfers was the priority. Critics say that the deal risks making the USA a supplier of raw materials to fuel China's expansion and plans to dominate high-tech manufacturing.

Tensions quickly eased on Might 19 after China promised to "considerably improve" its purchases of US farm, power and different merchandise. From 1790 to 1860, for example, they produced 90 percent of federal revenue, according to "Clashing Over Commerce: A History of US Trade Policy" by Douglas Irwin, an economist at Dartmouth College.




French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire warned a trade war could begin in "a few days".

China has also threatened to hit back with tit-for-tat tariffs on tens of billions of dollars in USA goods.

Trade analysts had warned Ross's hand might be weakened by the Trump administration's decision Thursday to go ahead with tariffs on steel and aluminum imports from Canada, Europe and Mexico.

The Trump administration's shifting stance on China may also complicate Ross's ability to extract concessions from Beijing.

Calling the USA tariffs on steel and aluminium "deeply deplorable", Japanese Finance Minister Taro Aso said, "I've been to these meetings for a long time".

Last month, Trump had threatened punitive measures against Chinese goods if China doesn't cut down the trade deficit by Dollars 100 billion in a month and USD 200 billion by 2020.

Those hard issues include what the USA complains is rampant theft of intellectual property, as well as Beijing's support for cutting-edge technologies under its Made in China 2025 policy. Critics note that big corporations in rich countries exploited looser rules to move factories to China and other low-wage countries, then shipped goods back to their wealthy home countries while paying low tariffs or none at all.

In 2017, Trump vetoed the sale of a USA semiconductor manufacturer to a Chinese investor on national security grounds after Washington concluded the financing came from China's government.

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