China offers to buy $70bn of US goods

WASHINGTON: China has offered to buy $70 billion worth of US goods if Washington drops plans to impose tariffs in return, an official in President Donald Trump’s administration said, confirming an earlier report.
Top Chinese economic advisor Liu He made the offer during weekend trade talks in Beijing with a US delegation led by Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, The Wall Street Journal reported.
The new purchases would include soybeans, natural gas, crude oil and coal. The Commerce Department said no definitive agreement had been reached and no further information was available.
During a regular news briefing on Thursday in Beijing, the Chinese commerce ministry confirmed the two sides had discussed detailed proposals during the trade negotiations.
“China and the US carried out in-depth and concrete discussions in some specific areas of trade cooperation, especially agricultural products and energy,” said Gao Feng, the ministry’s spokesman, when asked about the $70 billion figure.
“China is willing to expand imports from the US under the precondition of both sides walking towards each other,” Gao said.
US exports to China last year hit $130.4 billion, according to the Department. A $70 billion package of purchases would amount to a 53.8 per cent increase.
For goods alone, the US trade deficit with China hit a record $375 billion last year, and the White House has demanded Beijing cut the imbalance by $200 billion.
“If the United States introduces trade sanctions including tariffs, all the economic and trade achievements negotiated by the two parties will be void,” China’s official news agency Xinhua said on Sunday.
According to the Wall Street Journal, Liu personally explained to Ross the offer would be void in the event Washington imposed additional tariffs.
Trump had announced last week that the US was pressing ahead with plans to impose 25 per cent tariffs on $50 billion worth of Chinese imports tied to the tech sector, which Washington says has benefitted from the alleged theft of US know-how and intellectual property.
Washington’s trade battles with China, Europe, Mexico and others are an effort to make those countries buy more US goods and force down the US trade deficit, which Trump sees as a job killer and threat to the American industrial base.
On the other hand, China’s Commerce Ministry said on Thursday that the country does not want an escalation of trade frictions with the United States, and that some specific progress was made in the latest round of talks that concluded over the weekend.
China has said that it is willing to increase imports from America as part of negotiations to reduce the United States’ $375 billion goods trade deficit with the world’s second-largest economy and defuse broader commercial tensions.
Sources said that President Donald Trump has discussed with trade advisors a Chinese government offer to import an extra $70 billion in US agricultural and energy commodities, but it is unclear if such as deal would be enough to avert a trade war.
Trump has threatened tariffs on up to $150 billion of Chinese exports as part of a separate dispute over Chinese intellectual property (IP)
The administration has said that a final list of goods for a first wave of duties will be issued next week, and that US Treasury Department plans to limit Chinese investment in the United States were also under way.
Commerce Ministry spokesman Gao Feng told a weekly news briefing that the talks had made specific progress, and reiterated China’s willingness to import more from the United States, but he did not offer details. — AFP