China says Washington asks to resume talks on tariff fight

China TradeMore

China TradeMore

The US President Donald Trump said Washington is under "no pressure" to achieve a trade deal with China as the prospect of new tariffs loom.

"We are under no pressure to make a deal with China, they are under pressure to make a deal with us", Mr Trump said in a tweet on Thursday. "We welcome it", said a ministry spokesman, Geng Shuang. Mr. Trump threatened to increase that number by another $267 billion to bring the total tariffs to an amount equal to all of China's annual exports to the U.S. The administration already imposed tariffs on $50 billion of Chinese goods, slapped tariffs on aluminum (10 percent) and steel (25 percent), and raised duties on washing machines (up to 50 percent) and solar panels (up to 30 percent).

Orit Frenkel, a former US Trade Representative official and president of consulting firm Frenkel Strategies, also said Trump may feel pressure to reach agreements to avoid continuing the trade war with the midterms fast approaching, but that he would want to see significant concessions from China before backing down.

"In fact, from last month's preliminary talks in Washington, the two sides' trade talk teams have maintained various forms of contact, and held discussions on the concerns of each side", he said.

The trade war has already contributed to sell-offs in China's stock markets and currency.

The comments come amid reports the two sides could resume talks to stave off a third round of USA tariffs.

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It's unclear yet what specific sectors have been affected by the suspension, but it will likely include industries that Beijing has promised to open to foreign businesses, such as banking, securities, insurance and asset management, said Jacob Parker, vice-president for China operations of the USCBC.

The possible resumption of negotiations sent Asian markets rallying with Hong Kong surging 2.5 per cent - having fallen for six straight days and into a bear market - and Shanghai more than one per cent higher.

His first round of tariffs this summer hit US$50 billion in Chinese products like high-end technology parts and manufactured goods, while Beijing fired back dollar-for-dollar at United States soybeans, autos and other farm goods.

More than 60% of USA companies polled said the US tariffs were already affecting their business operations, while a similar percentage said Chinese duties on USA goods were having an impact on business. A meeting among Cabinet-level officials could ease market worries over the escalating tariff war that threatens to engulf all trade between the world's two largest economies and raise costs for companies and consumers.

The negative impact of the tariffs on USA companies has been "clear and far reaching", according to the joint survey by AmCham China and AmCham Shanghai published on Thursday.

But Kudlow was non-committal over the chances of a breakthrough, adding: "I guarantee nothing".

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China may not be able to match future USA tariffs dollar for dollar and has warned that it would take other measures.

Envoys from the two countries last met August 22 in Washington but reported no progress.

The invitation, first reported by the Wall Street Journal, comes amid a swelling chorus of opposition to tariffs from Western business circles. "AmCham China and AmCham Shanghai urge both governments to return to the negotiating table".

But US firms are feeling whiplash from both sides as they sell and make goods in China, with Washington's border tax increase and Beijing's counter-punch hurting more than 60% of businesses, according to the poll.

A day earlier, more than 60 United States industry groups launched a coalition - Americans for Free Trade - to take the fight against the tariffs public.

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