US to restart China trade talks, will not accept conditions on tariff use

WASHINGTON: The United States hopes to re-launch trade talks with China after President Donald Trump and President Xi Jinping meet in Japan on Saturday, but Washington will not accept any conditions around the US use of tariffs in the dispute, a senior administration official said.
Trump has threatened to impose tariffs on another $325 billion of goods, covering nearly all the remaining Chinese imports into the United States — including consumer products such as cellphones, computers and clothing — if the meeting with Xi produces no progress in resolving a host of US complaints around the way China does business.
The two sides could agree not to impose new tariffs as a goodwill gesture to get negotiations going, the official said, but he said it was unclear if that would happen.
The United States was not willing to come to the Xi meeting with concessions, said the official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity. Washington wants Beijing to come back the table with the promises it withdrew before talks broke down, he said.
China has shown no softening in its position and said on Monday that both sides should make compromises in the trade talks and that a trade deal has to be beneficial for both countries.
The back-and-forth set up what could prove to be a tricky meeting between Trump and Xi at the Group of 20 summit meeting in Osaka. The session will be the first time they have met since trade talks between the world’s two largest economies broke down in May, when the United States accused China of reneging on reform pledges it made.
Chinese Vice Premier Liu He, who has led trade talks for Beijing, held a phone conversation with his counterparts, US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, according to China’s Ministry of Commerce. The three men are helping to pave the way for talks between the leaders this week.
Expectations for that meeting so far appear to be low. The best-case scenario would be a resumption of official talks, which could ease fears in financial markets that the already long trade dispute might continue indefinitely. The fears have pummelled global markets and hurt the world economy.
Trump advisers have said no trade deal is expected at the meeting but they hope to create a path forward for talks. Once negotiations resume, they could take months or even years to complete, the senior Trump administration official said, with some parts agreed early and others needing more time. — Reuters