China: Tariffs by US would wipe out trade progress


USA commerce secretary Wilbur Ross, left, with Chinese vice premier Liu He after their meeting at the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse in Beijing, China on Sunday.

The planned U.S. trade sanctions on Beijing include restrictions on Chinese investment, export controls and 25% tariffs on $50 billion in tech goods.

"China is willing to sit down and negotiate - the country does have a need to import more consumer goods and natural gas", he said.

The two governments released no schedule for the talks, but China said earlier Ross was due to be in Beijing through to Monday.

The purchases are partly aimed at shrinking the $375bn USA goods trade deficit with China.

There was no immediate comment or statement from the United States delegation or from Ross himself.

There was also anger at the G7 meeting of finance ministers after last weekend's decision by the U.S. to impose 25% steel tariffs and 10% aluminum duty on the EU, Canada and Mexico.

Analysts suggested Mr Trump might be trying to appease critics of his administration's deal to allow Chinese telecom equipment giant ZTE Corp to stay in business.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, who announced the tariff truce with China, said at the G7 summit in Canada that the U.S. was pushing for "structural changes" to the Chinese economy. They said those political pressures mean the technology-related tariff hikes are likely to go ahead.

Chinese state media have glossed over why the United States sales ban was imposed: ZTE's ties to North Korea and Iran.

Trump also has threatened to raise tariffs on an additional US$100 billion of Chinese goods, but gave no indication this week whether that would go ahead.

The White House said that Trump planned to add the tariffs to combat Chinese intellectual property theft, including tariffs on exports believed to contain stolen American intellectual property.

Mr Ross was accompanied by agriculture, treasury and trade officials for the meeting at the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse, a leafy compound on Beijing's west side.

China's delegation included central bank governor Yi Gang, commerce minister Zhong Shan, and Ning Jizhe, a deputy head of the powerful planning body the National Development and Reform Commission.

Beijing has resisted U.S. pressure to commit to a firm target of narrowing its annual surplus with the United States by $US200 billion ($264 billion).

The US pressure over technology policy reflects growing American concern about China's status as a potential competitor and complaints Beijing improperly subsidizes its fledgling industries and shields them from competition.

At a heated meeting in the Canadian ski resort of Whistler, the European Union and Canada threatened to retaliate against tariffs of 25% on steel and 10% on aluminium, whose implementation Mr Ross announced on Thursday.

Ross and the large American delegation had dinner Saturday evening with their Chinese hosts.

That might alienate allies who share complaints about Chinese technology policy and a flood of low-cost steel, aluminium and other exports they say are the result of improper subsidies and hurt foreign competitors.