China urges US to make ‘wise choice’ ahead of tar­iffs de­ci­sion

The Gulf Today - Business - - INTERNATIONAL -

BEI­JING: China urged the United States on Thurs­day to make a “wise de­ci­sion” on trade, say­ing it was ready to re­spond in case Wash­ing­ton chose con­fronta­tion, as US Pres­i­dent Don­ald pre­pares to de­cide whether to ac­ti­vate tar­iffs on Chi­nese goods.

Trump is due to un­veil re­vi­sions to his ini­tial tar­iff list tar­get­ing $50 bil­lion of Chi­nese goods on Fri­day. Peo­ple fa­mil­iar with the re­vi­sions said the list would be slightly smaller than the orig­i­nal, with some goods deleted and oth­ers added, par­tic­u­larly in the tech­nol­ogy sec­tor.

Another ad­min­is­tra­tion official said a draft doc­u­ment showed the new list would still be close to $50 bil­lion, with about 1,300 prod­uct cat­e­gories, but both the dol­lar amount and quan­tity of prod­ucts were still subject to change.

Speak­ing to re­porters in Bei­jing, with US Sec­re­tary of State Mike Pom­peo at his side, the Chi­nese govern­ment’s top diplo­mat State Coun­cil­lor Wang Yi said there were two choices when it came to the trade is­sue.

“The first choice is co­op­er­a­tion and mu­tual ben­e­fit. The other choice is con­fronta­tion and mu­tual loss. China chooses the first,” Wang said. “We hope the US side can also make the same wise choice. Of course, we have also made prepa­ra­tions to re­spond to the sec­ond kind of choice.” The move to­ward ac­ti­vat­ing US tar­iffs on Chi­nese goods fol­lows ne­go­ti­a­tions be­tween US and Chi­nese of­fi­cials cen­tred on in­creased pur­chases by Bei­jing of Amer­i­can farm and en­ergy com­modi­ties and cut­ting the US trade deficit with China.

Com­merce Sec­re­tary Wil­bur Ross this month met Chi­nese of­fi­cials in Bei­jing and brought back a Chi­nese pro­posal to buy around $70 bil­lion worth of ad­di­tional com­modi­ties and man­u­fac­tured goods. But that of­fer has not been ac­cepted by Trump, peo­ple fa­mil­iar with the mat­ter said.

Wang said a ba­sic con­sen­sus reached by the two coun­tries dur­ing the re­cent talks was a pact to use “con­struc­tive means” to han­dle dis­agree­ments.

“We hope the US side can meet China half­way and earnestly im­ple­ment this im­por­tant con­sen­sus, and pro­mote the ap­pro­pri­ate res­o­lu­tion of the rel­e­vant is­sue through a win­win and not lose-lose man­ner,” he said.

“In this process, we hope the US side does not uni­lat­er­ally take any non-con­struc­tive ac­tions, and does not cre­ate new ob­sta­cles for the next phase of con­sul­ta­tions.” Pom­peo said the US deficit with China was still too high, but that they had had good talks.

“I stressed how im­por­tant it is for Pres­i­dent Trump to rec­tify that sit­u­a­tion so that trade be­comes more bal­anced, more re­cip­ro­cal and more fair, with the op­por­tu­nity to have Amer­i­can work­ers be treated fairly. We had good and con­struc­tive dis­cus­sions.”

It re­mains un­clear when Trump would ac­ti­vate the tar­iffs, if he de­cides to do so. Sev­eral in­dus­try lob­by­ists told Reuters they ex­pected the move to come as early as Fri­day, with pub­li­ca­tion of a Fed­eral Reg­is­ter no­tice, or it could be put off un­til next week.

If Wash­ing­ton adopts tar­iffs, Bei­jing is ex­pected to hit back with its own du­ties on US imports, in­clud­ing soy­beans, cars, chem­i­cals and planes, ac­cord­ing to a list it re­leased in early April.

Un­der the 1974 trade law that Trump in­voked to pur­sue a tar­iff in­ves­ti­ga­tion into China’s in­tel­lec­tual prop­erty prac­tices, he could de­lay the ac­ti­va­tion by 30 days. He can also de­lay the tar­iffs by another 180 days if the US Trade Rep­re­sen­ta­tive’s of­fice finds ne­go­ti­a­tions with China are yield­ing progress.

“The pres­i­dent’s trade team has rec­om­mended tar­iffs. If there are not tar­iffs, it will be be­cause the pres­i­dent has de­cided that he’s not ready to im­ple­ment tar­iffs,” a per­son fa­mil­iar with the ad­min­is­tra­tion’s de­lib­er­a­tions told Reuters.

But that rec­om­men­da­tion came prior to Trump’s trip late last week to Canada for the G7 lead­ers’ sum­mit and to Sin­ga­pore for talks with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un to defuse a nu­clear stand­off on the Korean penin­sula.

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