US and China urged to step back from es­ca­lat­ing global trade war

The Scotsman - - WORLD NEWS - By MAR­GARET NEIGH­BOUR

Bri­tain has urged the United States and China to step back from a full- scale trade war as Bei­jing threat­ened re­tal­i­a­tion for the lat­est round of US tar­iffs.

The US ad­min­is­tra­tion of Don­ald Trump an­nounced on Fri­day it was more than dou­bling du­ties on $ 200 bil­lion dol­lars (£ 155bn) of Chi­nese im­ports from 10 per cent to 25 per cent.

The Chi­nese Com­merce Min­istry said it“deeply re­grets” the move and warned it would take “nec­es­sary coun­ter­mea­sures”.

Down­ing Street, how­ever, cau­tioned that a wors­en­ing trade war would have dam­ag­ing con­se­quences both for the two coun­tries and the wider global econ­omy.

“We are con­cerned about it. We are clear that no­body ben­e­fits from trade wars,” a No 10 spokes­woman said.

“Dis­cus­sions be­tween the two are on­go­ing and we hope they will find a res­o­lu­tion to avoid any fur­ther es­ca­la­tion.”

The spat erupted as US and Chi­nese ne­go­tia­tors were due to be­gin fur­ther talks in Washington aimed at re­solv­ing a dis­pute which has rocked fi­nan­cial mar­kets and dis­rupted world trade.

Amer­i­can of­fi­cials ac­cused Bei­jing of back­track­ing on com­mit­ments made in ear­lier rounds of ne­go­ti­a­tions.

“China deeply re­grets that it will have to take nec­es­sary counter mea­sures ,” said a Com­merce Min­istry state­ment.

The lat­est in­crease ex­tends 25 per cent US du­ties to a to­tal of $ 250bn (£ 192bn) of Chi­nese im­ports.

Bei­jing re­tal­i­ated for pre­vi­ous tar­iff hikes by rais­ing du­ties on $ 110 bn (£ 85 bn) of Amer­i­can im­ports.

The ne­go­tia­tors met on Thurs­day evening. Then, af­ter brief­ing Trump on the ne­go­ti­a­tions, US Trade Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Robert Lighthizer and Trea­sury Sec­re­tary Steven Mnuchin dined with the leader of the Chi­nese del­e­ga­tion, Vice Premier Liu He.

Liu, speak­ing to Chi­nese state TV on his ar­rival in Washington, said he “came with sin­cer­ity.” He ap­pealed to Washington to avoid more tar­iff hikes, say­ing they are “not a so­lu­tion” and would harm the world.

“We should not hurt in­no­cent peo­ple,” Liu told CCTV.

At the White House, Trump said he re­ceived “a beau­ti­ful let­ter” from Chi­nese Pres­i­dent Xi Jin­ping and would “prob­a­bly speak to him by phone.”

Chan­cel­lor Philip Ham­mond said an es­ca­lat­ing dis­pute be­tween the two coun­tries could be “very dan­ger­ous” for the global econ­omy.

Mr Ham­mond said the wors­en­ing dis­pute was a “worry”, al­though he re­mained “op­ti­mistic” that res­o­lu­tion would even­tu­ally be found.

“If there was a full- blown trade war be­tween the world’s largest economies - that would be very se­ri­ous in­deed for growth prospects across the globe. That could be very dan­ger­ous,” he said.

“We have al­ready seen a neg­a­tive ef­fect of fore­casts for global growth largely caused by trade ten­sions be­tween China and the US, so this is a worry.

“A full-blown trade war would have a very se­ri­ous damp­en­ing ef­fect on the whole global econ­omy, in­clud­ing the UK, but I think we are a way away from that yet and I hope that this will be re­solved.”

The two coun­tries are spar­ring over al­le­ga­tions Bei­jing steals tech­nol­ogy and pres­sures com­pa­nies to hand over trade se­crets.

0 Liu He meets Robert Lighthizer in Washington yes­ter­day

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