China agrees to im­port more from U.S, no sign of $200 bln num­ber

Stabroek News Sunday - - WORLD NEWS -

WASH­ING­TON, (Reuters) - China has agreed to take mea­sures to boost im­ports from the United States to re­duce Amer­ica’s trade deficit, the two coun­tries said yes­ter­day, although with­out men­tion­ing the $200 bil­lion tar­get the White House had touted ear­lier.

Bei­jing and Wash­ing­ton agreed they would keep on talk­ing about mea­sures un­der which China would im­port more com­modi­ties from the United States to close a $335 bil­lion an­nual trade gap between the two coun­tries that has threat­ened to ig­nite a global trade war.

“There was a con­sen­sus on tak­ing ef­fec­tive mea­sures to sub­stan­tially re­duce the United States trade deficit in goods with China,” the joint state­ment said.

“To meet the grow­ing con­sump­tion needs of the Chi­nese peo­ple and the need for high-qual­ity eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment, China will sig­nif­i­cantly in­crease pur­chases of United States goods and ser­vices.”

The state­ment con­cluded joint talks on Thurs­day and Fri­day between the two coun­tries, which in­cluded sev­eral U.S. cabi­net sec­re­taries and China’s State Coun­cil Vice Premier Liu He.

U.S. Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump has threat­ened to im­pose tar­iffs on up to $150 bil­lion on Chi­nese goods to com­bat what he says is Bei­jing’s mis­ap­pro­pri­a­tion of U.S. tech­nol­ogy through joint ven­ture re­quire­ments and other poli­cies. Bei­jing has threat­ened equal re­tal­i­a­tion, in­clud­ing tar­iffs on some of its largest U.S. im­ports, among them air­craft, soy­beans and au­tos.

Trump made re­duc­ing the trade deficit between the United States and China a key cam­paign prom­ise. Wash­ing­ton de­manded that China re­duce its trade sur­plus by $200 bil­lion, a fig­ure most econ­o­mists say is im­pos­si­ble to achieve.

Such a re­duc­tion on a sus­tain­able ba­sis would require a mas­sive change in the com­po­si­tion of com­merce between the two coun­tries.

The fig­ure is larger than all of the United States’ global an­nual agri­cul­tural and oil ex­ports.

The state­ment says that China will “ad­vance rel­e­vant amend­ments to its laws and reg­u­la­tions” to al­low for more Amer­i­can im­ports, in­clud­ing changes to patent laws.

There are con­cerns among some leg­is­la­tors and trade ex­perts that Trump could give pri­or­ity to a re­duc­tion of the trade deficit over tack­ling what they say is China’s abuse of in­tel­lec­tual prop­erty rights. Any deal un­der which China would im­port more goods could eas­ily be re­versed, econ­o­mists say.

The state­ment made no men­tion of whether there would a re­lax­ation of par­a­lyz­ing re­stric­tions on Chi­nese telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions equip­ment maker ZTE Corp im­posed last month by the U.S. Com­merce Depart­ment.

The ac­tion, re­lated to vi­o­la­tion of U.S. sanc­tions on Iran, banned Amer­i­can com­pa­nies from sell­ing semi­con­duc­tors and other com­po­nents to ZTE, caus­ing the Shen­zhen-based com­pany to cease op­er­a­tions.

Ear­lier this week, Trump tweeted that he di­rected the Com­merce Depart­ment to put ZTE back in busi­ness and said the com­pany’s sit­u­a­tion was part of an over­all trade deal with China.

Don­ald Trump

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