US of­fer to hold trade talks wel­comed by China: FM

Global Times - - Front Page - By Chu Daye and Yin Han

The US has in­vited China to a new round of trade talks, China’s Min­istry of Com­merce (MOFCOM) con­firmed on Thurs­day, and Chi­nese ex­perts said that this move might in­di­cate US public pres­sure has changed the gov­ern­ment’s at­ti­tude to­ward trade fric­tions.

The par­ties are dis­cussing de­tails of the pos­si­ble meet­ing, Gao Feng, a MOFCOM spokesper­son, told a rou­tine press brief­ing on Thurs­day.

“China has re­ceived an in­vi­ta­tion from the US side for a new round of trade talks, and China wel­comes such talks,” Gao said.

Chi­nese For­eign Min­istry spokesper­son Geng Shuang also said at Thurs­day’s rou­tine press con­fer­ence that China “wel­comes” the in­vi­ta­tion and has al­ways held that an

es­ca­la­tion of the trade con­flict is not in any­one’s in­ter­est.

The Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion was re­ported on Wed­nes­day to have in­vited Chi­nese of­fi­cials to new trade talks, Reuters re­ported on Thurs­day.

The re­port said that the US side was ex­pect­ing a “Cabi­net-level meet­ing” which is ex­pected to “ease mar­ket wor­ries over the es­ca­lat­ing tar­iff war,” and the meet­ing would hap­pen in the next few weeks.

Zhang Ning, a re­search fel­low at the Chi­nese Academy of So­cial Sci­ences, told the Global Times on Thurs­day that the ranks of the of­fi­cials are not that im­por­tant.

“Whether this round of talks can be car­ried out in a prac­ti­cal at­mos­phere is more rel­e­vant to the out­come,” Zhang said, not­ing that this round of talks could last sev­eral months.

“The fact that the US did not im­me­di­ately im­pose tar­iffs on Chi­nese goods worth $200 bil­lion is a sign that such tar­iffs may never see day­light, be­cause it is such a dis­rup­tion to the global value chain built up over the years,” Zhang noted.

US Trea­sury Sec­re­tary Steven Mnuchin, as head of the US del­e­ga­tion, made the in­vi­ta­tion, Trump’s eco­nomic chief Larry Kud­low was quoted by Reuters as say­ing.

Of­fi­cials from both coun­tries held a two-day meet­ing in Washington DC on Au­gust 22 and 23. Chi­nese Vice Min­is­ter of Com­merce and Deputy China In­ter­na­tional Trade Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Wang Shouwen at­tended the meet­ing.

It is worth not­ing that the US at­ti­tude to­ward the trade fric­tions “has sub­tly changed since the last meet­ing,” Bai Ming, a re­search fel­low at the Chi­nese Academy of In­ter­na­tional Trade and Eco­nomic Co­op­er­a­tion, told the Global Times.

“It now faces huge pres­sure from its public and do­mes­tic com­pa­nies and is not as con­fi­dent as it used to be,” Bai said on Thurs­day.

The US was re­port­edly poised to im­pose tar­iffs on $200 bil­lion worth of Chi­nese goods in the first week of Septem­ber, which 95 per­cent of US en­ter­prise rep­re­sen­ta­tives re­port­edly op­posed in a public hear­ing which ended on Au­gust 27.

Re­tal­i­a­tion au­tho­riza­tion

China’s del­e­ga­tion to the World Trade Or­ga­ni­za­tion (WTO) on Sun­day re­quested per­mis­sion to im­pose sanc­tions on the US for fail­ing to cor­rect its il­le­gal ac­tions.

A spe­cial meet­ing of the WTO’s Dis­pute Set­tle­ment Body (DSB) will be held on Septem­ber 21, and the Chi­nese del­e­ga­tion would seek au­tho­riza­tion to im­pose a yearly re­tal­i­a­tion of $7.043 bil­lion on the US, as the lat­ter failed to com­ply with the body’s rec­om­men­da­tions on its an­tidump­ing pro­ceed­ings, ac­cord­ing to the WTO web­site.

The DSB said in 2016 that the US had acted in­con­sis­tently with WTO ar­ti­cles in cal­cu­lat­ing dump­ing du­ties on Chi­nese ex­ports in mul­ti­ple in­dus­tries, in­clud­ing ma­chin­ery and elec­tron­ics, and the US was asked to im­ple­ment WTO’s rec­om­men­da­tions by Au­gust 22, the Xin­hua News Agency re­ported on Wed­nes­day.

This is the first time since China’s ac­ces­sion to the WTO that China has sought au­tho­riza­tion for trade re­tal­i­a­tion, the re­port said.

Bai told the Global Times that the ac­tion “re­flects the con­tract spirit which the US should im­ple­ment.”

China in 2015 abol­ished its strict ex­port quota on rare-earth el­e­ments fol­low­ing a WTO rul­ing in 2014 that such re­stric­tions were in­con­sis­tent with its trade rules. “The WTO should be fair in dis­pute set­tle­ments re­gard­less of pres­sure from any party,” Bai noted.

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