Fri, Jun 21, 2019 - Page 10 News List

China, US trade teams to talk before presidents meet

DIALOGUE CRUCIAL:Robert Lighthizer said that he plans to telephone the top Chinese negotiator, as it is very important to rectify the US’ ‘unbalanced’ relationship with China

Reuters, BEIJING

Top Chinese and US officials would hold trade talks following instructions from their leaders, but China hopes that Washington would create the necessary conditions for dialogue, the Chinese Ministry of Commerce said yesterday.

China hopes the US listens to its industry and stops threatening tariffs and waging a trade dispute, ministry spokesman Gao Feng (高峰) told reporters at a regular briefing.

Trade talks between the world’s two largest economies collapsed last month, with US President Donald Trump accusing China of watering down its commitments.

Trump raised tariffs on Chinese goods and has threatened even more.

In a telephone call with Trump on Tuesday, Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) agreed to meet his US counterpart in Osaka, Japan, at the G20 summit on Friday and Saturday next week.

Three main differences remain, including the removal of all the additional tariffs, Beijing says.

Both sides have disagreed over trade purchases and a “balanced” text for any trade deal.

Those three “matters of principle” cannot be compromised, China has said.

Asked if China’s precondition for restarting talks was still tied to the three issues being met, Gao said its basic stance on the trade talks was consistent, and its fundamental demands must be met.

Appearing before the US House of Representatives Committee on Ways and Means on Wednesday, US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer said he plans to telephone the top Chinese negotiator in the next day and a half.

The two are then expected to meet, along with US Secretary of the Treasury Steven Mnuchin, in Osaka ahead of the Trump-Xi G20 meeting.

Lighthizer did not name his counterpart, but Chinese Vice Premier Liu He (劉鶴) has led the Chinese delegation in past talks.

Trump has pointed to the US trade deficit with China — a record US$381 billion last year — as a sign that China is pursuing abusive trade practices.

“We have a very unbalanced relationship with China, and we have one that risks literally the jobs of the future for America,” Lighthizer said. “So, it’s very important that we get this relationship right.”

The US has slapped 25 percent tariffs on US$250 billion worth of Chinese imports. The Chinese have responded by targeting US$110 billion in US products.

Additional reporting by AP

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