US, China launch trade talks to avert tariff war

WASHINGTON: The United States and China launch a second round of trade talks on Thursday to try to avert a damaging tariff war, with the Trump administration demanding a $200 billion cut in China’s US trade surplus and greater protections for intellectual property.
US President Donald Trump has threatened to impose up to $150 billion in punitive tariffs to combat what he says is Beijing’s misappropriation of US technology through joint venture requirements and other policies.
Beijing has threatened equal retaliation, including tariffs on some of its largest US imports, including aircraft, soybeans and autos. At talks in Beijing two weeks ago, both sides presented lengthy lists of demands, agreeing only to keep talking.
The Trump administration sought a $200 billion reduction in China’s $375 billion US goods trade surplus, an end to joint venture requirements that it says coerce technology transfers from American companies and an end to subsidies for advanced technology industries under the “Made in China” 2025 program.
China demanded that Trump relax crushing restrictions imposed on Chinese telecommunications equipment maker ZTE Corp , and end restrictions on Chinese investments in the United States and sales of high-technology goods to China.
Trump on Sunday wrote on Twitter he would help put ZTE back in business after a Commerce Department ban cut off its supply of US components, forcing it to suspend operations.
In tweets on Wednesday, Trump linked ZTE’s situation to a larger trade deal and said that Beijing has “much to give” Washington on trade, denying suggestions his administration was “folding” in negotiations with China.
“Nothing has happened with ZTE except as it pertains to the larger trade deal,” Trump wrote on Twitter.
Top White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow told Fox Business Network on Thursday the discussion over ZTE was about re-examining the US penalties, not waiving the enforcement action altogether.
“We have not seen China’s demands yet, which should be few in that previous US Administrations have done so poorly in negotiating,” Trump wrote.”The US has very little to give, because it has given so much over the years.China has much to give!”
Kudlow, in his interview with Fox, said the White House expected China to bring a proposal to the talks that would “extend the conversation and permit additional negotiations.”
The discussions get underway with some drama as the White House’s harshest China critic, Trump trade adviser Peter Navarro, was relegated to a supporting role amid a growing rift with US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin. — Reuters