Caixin
Jun 04, 2018 12:55 AM
ECONOMY

China Warns U.S. About Imposing Tariffs as Latest Talks Conclude

Chinese Vice Premier Liu He (right) chats with U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross during a photograph session after their meeting at the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse in Beijing on June 3. Photo: VCG
Chinese Vice Premier Liu He (right) chats with U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross during a photograph session after their meeting at the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse in Beijing on June 3. Photo: VCG

China warned the United States that imposing tariffs and other trade barriers would jeopardize any progress the two sides have made to date to ease their trade tensions, Beijing said in a short statement on Sunday.

Delegations from China and the U.S., led by Chinese Vice Premier Liu He and U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, held another round of trade talk in Beijing on Saturday and Sunday, following two rounds of earlier negotiations in Beijing and Washington, the official Xinhua News Agency reported.

No announcement of any deal has been made regarding the latest round of talk, but a short statement issued by the Chinese government said talks over the weekend have made “positive and concrete” progress

“To implement the consensus reached in Washington, the two sides have had good communication in various areas such as agriculture and energy, and have made positive and concrete progress while relevant details are yet to be confirmed by both sides,” the statement said.

A person with knowledge of the matter told Caixin that the latest talks were held based on the agreements that the two sides made in Washington last month. Although there have been twists and turns since then, China’s viewpoint and strategy have been unchanged during the negotiations, the source said.

China and the U.S. issued a joint statement in late May after a second round of trade talks, during which China agreed to “substantially” reduce its large trade surplus with the U.S., particularly by importing more American agricultural and energy goods. But the easing of tensions was jolted by U.S. President Donald Trump’s vow before the weekend talks to revive threatened tariffs on $50 billion worth of imports from China. 

China has been slashing tariffs on automobiles and other consumer goods in the past few weeks, and making it easier for foreign financial-services companies to access Chinese markets.

China’s attitude had been consistent and it is willing to increase imports from all countries, including the U.S., to meet the Chinese people’s ever-growing needs for a better life and the requirements of high-quality economic development, the statement said.

“Reform and opening-up as well as expanding domestic demand are China’s national strategies. Our set pace will not change,” the statement said.

But in a rare straightforward warning at the end of the statement, it said, “If the U.S. introduces trade measures, including an increase of tariffs, all the economic and trade outcomes negotiated by the two parties will not take effect.”

The statement intends to alert the U.S. government — which is divided on its attitude toward China — about the bottom line on future trade negotiations, analysts said. This indicates that China will keep its own pace to pursue easing the trade-war threat through negotiations while safeguarding its interests, they said.

Agreements between China and the U.S. should be based on the premise that both sides will move in the same direction and not wage a trade war, the statement said.

Routine procedures call for the U.S. delegation to report to Trump about the latest talk after returning. Details regarding the negotiations will be confirmed.

Contact reporter Han Wei (weihan@caixin.com)

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