US seeks 'fair, eq­ui­table and re­cip­ro­cal' trade with China

Kuwait Times - - BUSINESS -

The US launched its first round of trade talks with China since Don­ald Trump took of­fice in an un­usu­ally blunt man­ner yes­ter­day, de­mand­ing more "fair, eq­ui­table and re­cip­ro­cal" re­la­tion­ship, with more ac­cess to Amer­i­can made goods and ser­vices. Not­ing the more than 200 per­cent surge in Chi­nese ex­ports to the United States in the last 15 years, cre­at­ing a trade deficit of $309 bil­lion last year, Com­merce Sec­re­tary Wil­bur Ross in­sisted change was nec­es­sary. "If this were just the nat­u­ral prod­uct of free mar­ket forces, we could un­der­stand it, but it's not," Ross said in the open­ing cer­e­mony of the one-day meet­ing be­tween the world's top two economies. "So it is time to re­bal­ance our trade and in­vest­ment re­la­tion­ship in a more fair, eq­ui­table and re­cip­ro­cal man­ner." The talks are a con­tin­u­a­tion of the process un­der­taken by the pre­vi­ous two ad­min­is­tra­tions, which the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion has re­branded as the US-China Com­pre­hen­sive Eco­nomic Dia­logue (CED).

Trea­sury Sec­re­tary Steven Mnuchin said the talks with the Chi­nese del­e­ga­tion led by Vice Premier Wang Yang would fo­cus on con­crete steps to pro­vide greater ac­cess and a "level play­ing field" for US com­pa­nies to the world's sec­ond largest mar­ket. "We need to work to­gether to max­i­mize the ben­e­fit for both sides. But this is only pos­si­ble if there is a more fair and bal­anced eco­nomic re­la­tion­ship be­tween the US and China," Mnuchin said. "It means ad­dress­ing the im­bal­ances cause by the Chi­nese in­ter­ven­tion in its econ­omy," he said, adding: "A more bal­anced eco­nomic re­la­tion­ship will cre­ate pros­per­ity for our two coun­tries and the world." Dur­ing his cam­paign, Trump at­tacked China for un­fair trade prac­tices, but his meet­ing with Chi­nese Pres­i­dent Xi Jin­ping at his Florida re­sort in April prompted a change of rhetoric and the launch of a 100-day eco­nomic co­op­er­a­tion plan.

That led to spe­cific but nar­row achieve­ments, in­clud­ing open­ing the Chi­nese mar­ket to US beef ex­ports, and pledges to re­move bar­ri­ers to US credit card trans­ac­tions, credit rat­ings, and other fi­nan­cial ser­vices, in­clud­ing bond un­der­writ­ing, that were to be con­cluded prior to Wednes­day's talks. Wang said the key point about the meet­ing is the two coun­tries are "hav­ing dia­logue, not con­fronta­tion." "We don't need to de­feat each other in han­dling dif­fer­ences," he cau­tioned, stress­ing that "con­fronta­tion will im­me­di­ately dam­age the in­ter­ests of both" coun­tries.

Wang quoted a pas­sage from Trump's 2009 busi­ness ad­vice book "Think Like a Cham­pion"-which in turn was quot­ing in­dus­try pi­o­neer Henry Ford-say­ing, "Com­ing to­gether is a be­gin­ning; keep­ing to­gether is progress; work­ing to­gether is suc­cess." "China is ready to work to­gether." — AFP


WASH­ING­TON: US Sec­re­tary of the Trea­sury Steven Mnuchin (left) and Chi­nese Vice Premier Wang Yang pose for a photo be­fore an open­ing ses­sion at a US and China com­pre­hen­sive Eco­nomic Dia­logue at the US De­part­ment of the Trea­sury yes­ter­day in Wash­ing­ton, DC.

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