Two sides look to find com­mon trade ground

China Daily (USA) - - ACROSS AMERICA - By ZHAO HUANXIN in Wash­ing­ton huanx­inzhao@chi­nadai­lyusa.com

Think tank re­searchers, law­mak­ers and high-rank­ing Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion of­fi­cials in Wash­ing­ton have talked about re­sum­ing ne­go­ti­a­tions to cool off the fes­ter­ing trade ten­sions be­tween the world’s top two economies, which are em­broiled in a dispute in­ten­si­fied by a fresh round of tar­iff threats from the US.

But Chinese com­merce of­fi­cials have made it clear that trust is the pre­con­di­tion for such talks.

The im­pact of US Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s trade poli­cies was a key topic dur­ing a hear­ing in Wash­ing­ton on Thurs­day, two days af­ter the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion an­nounced a se­cond pos­si­ble round of tar­iff hikes tar­get­ing a wider range of $200 bil­lion of Chinese goods, af­ter im­pos­ing hefty tar­iffs on $34 bil­lion of goods last Fri­day.

In an­swer­ing a ques­tion from US Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Ny­dia M. Velázquez if high-level talks be­tween Bei­jing and Wash­ing­ton on tar­iffs and trade will be re­opened and if he would par­tic­i­pate, US Trea­sury Sec­re­tary Steven Mnuchin said, “Yes, I plan to par­tic­i­pate.”

“I would say to the ex­tent that the Chinese want to make se­ri­ous ef­forts to make struc­tural changes, I and the ad­min­is­tra­tion are avail­able any­time to dis­cuss those,” he said.

Mnuchin said, “I don’t think we’re in a trade war, we’re in a sit­u­a­tion of trade dis­putes,” adding that his de­part­ment is “very much mon­i­tor­ing the im­pact on the econ­omy” from tar­iffs and the re­sult­ing re­tal­i­a­tion.

Ear­lier on Thurs­day in Bei­jing, Chinese Min­istry of Com­merce spokesman Gao Feng said, “China has said many times, the pre­con­di­tion for talks is trust. Both sides have not had con­tact on restart­ing the talks.”

The min­istry said in a state­ment on Thurs­day that from Fe­bru­ary to June alone, China en­gaged in four rounds of high-level eco­nomic talks with the US, and has an­nounced the China-US Joint State­ment with im­por­tant con­sen­sus reached on strength­en­ing trade and eco­nomic co­op­er­a­tion and avoid­ing a trade war.

“But due to do­mes­tic politics, the United States has gone back on its words, brazenly aban­doned the bi­lat­eral con­sen­sus, and in­sisted on fight­ing a trade war with China,” the state­ment said.

Both Mnuchin and US Sec­re­tary of Com­merce Wil­bur Ross were par­tic­i­pants in the talks.

On June 20, Ross, in ad­dress­ing a China Daily ques­tion re­gard­ing trade talks, said, “I know that you’re care­fully watch­ing the trade dis­cus­sions be­tween our two na­tions.”

“We are hope­ful that we can make progress and come to mu­tu­ally ben­e­fi­cial solutions that help both of our economies grow,” Ross said.

In Geneva on Thurs­day, Vice-Min­is­ter of Com­merce Wang Shouwen said the two sides had pro­duced “good progress” in their pre­vi­ous talks but said that was ig­nored by the US side, which went ahead with a trade war.

Wang, who is at­tend­ing a China pol­icy re­view at the head­quar­ters of the World Trade Or­ga­ni­za­tion, told re­porters, “For any talk to be suc­cess­ful, one party needs to take the gun off the head of the other party.

“For any talk to be use­ful, one party needs to be keep­ing its words. If one side keeps chop­ping and chang­ing all the time the talk would be point­less,” the vice-min­is­ter was quoted by the Agence FrancePresse as say­ing.

Hours af­ter Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion Tues­day’s an­nounce­ment of new tar­iffs, US House Ways and Means Com­mit­tee Chair­man Kevin Brady noted that de­spite the se­ri­ous eco­nomic con­se­quences of ev­er­in­creas­ing tar­iffs, there are no se­ri­ous trade dis­cus­sions oc­cur­ring be­tween the US and China.

“It’s time to take the first step into a new era of fair and free trade,” Brady, a prom­i­nent mem­ber of Trump’s Repub­li­can Party said in a state­ment. He urged top lead­ers of the two coun­tries to meet soon to craft a so­lu­tion to es­tab­lish “fair and last­ing trade” be­tween the two coun­tries.

Michael Green, se­nior vi­cepres­i­dent for Asia and Ja­pan Chair of the Cen­ter for Strate­gic and In­ter­na­tional Stud­ies, said he be­lieved ten­sion be­tween the world’s top two economies would arise no mat­ter who is US pres­i­dent.

“Pres­i­dent Trump’s style is to make ex­treme threats and blus­ter, and I think most busi­ness lead­ers and farm­ers and schol­ars think he’s wrong,” Green told China Daily.

The pres­i­dent’s move would dam­age Amer­i­can in­ter­ests as well as hurt China, and the USChina re­la­tions, he said.

“I hope there are ef­forts to try to find some way for­ward,” Green said.

ALEKSANDRA MICHALSKA / REUTERS

Soy­bean farmer Ray­mond Schex­nay­der Jr. over­looks his farm out­side in Er­winville, Louisiana on July 9.

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