Published: Mon, June 04, 2018
Business | By Eloise Houston

China: Trade deals in jeopardy if U.S. tariffs are implemented

China: Trade deals in jeopardy if U.S. tariffs are implemented

The two countries have threatened tit-for-tat tariffs on goods worth up to $150bn each.

"China expresses regret over the European Union launching the complaint and will properly handle it according to the WTO dispute settlement procedures", China's Ministry of Commerce said in a statement published late Sunday. The U.S. says China's outsized production artificially depresses global metals prices, endangering U.S. national security by undermining its domestic steel industry.

Less than 12 hours later, an agreement appeared to have been reached as discussions were wrapped up, according to China's official news agency Xinhua, although precious details were missing from the communique.

The statement said, "If the United States introduces trade sanctions including increasing tariffs, all the economic and trade achievements negotiated by the two parties will not take effect".

"All economic and trade outcomes of the talks will not take effect if the USA side imposes any trade sanctions including raising tariffs", the statement said.

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.

The two-day talks in Beijing which ended on Sunday followed an earlier round in Washington where officials had met to discuss the situation.

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

"The Chinese government's attitude of not wanting but also not fearing a trade war has never changed", it said.

Washington wants Beijing to narrow its trade surplus.

The world's two largest economies have been at loggerheads over trade and industrial practices for months with the talks under way in the Chinese capital the third formal round of negotiations.

Reuters reported last Sunday that Qualcomm was expecting to meet this week in Beijing with China's antitrust regulators in a final push to secure clearance for the deal, but the meeting never materialized and the San Diego-based firm is now waiting to see the outcome of the Ross talks before executives travel to China, a person familiar with the matter said on Saturday.

United States commerce secretary Wilbur Ross and vice premier Liu He did not issue a joint statement after they wrapped up two days of discussions.

Liu spoke only to welcome Ross.

Neither man has made any other comments to the media.

Liu, a Harvard-trained economist who is a trusted confidant of Chinese President Xi Jinping, is China's chief negotiator in the trade dispute.

Last week the White House announced it would impose curbs on Chinese investment and purchases of USA high-tech goods and on visas for Chinese students.

"That's a relationship with China that structurally has to change", he said.

Other officials and technical experts from the Department of Commerce, Department of Treasury, United States Trade Representative, Department of Agriculture, and Department of Energy also took part, the White House said. Liu's delegation included China's central bank governor and commerce minister. "The U.S. has been ripped off by other countries for years on Trade, time to get smart!"

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