US, China launch trade talks

Viet Nam News - - WORLD BUSINESS -

WASH­ING­TON — The United States and China launch trade talks yes­ter­day in a bid to avert a dam­ag­ing tar­iff war, with the White House’s harsh­est China critic rel­e­gated to a sup­port­ing role, se­nior Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion of­fi­cials said yes­ter­day.

Peter Navarro, the White House trade and man­u­fac­tur­ing ad­viser, will not be a prin­ci­pal player on the US side, two of­fi­cials said. In­stead, US Trea­sury Sec­re­tary Steven Mnuchin, Com­merce Sec­re­tary Wil­bur Ross and US Trade Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Robert Lighthizer will lead the Amer­i­can del­e­ga­tion in talks with Chinese Vice Premier Liu He, the top eco­nomic ad­viser to Pres­i­dent Xi Jin­ping.

Navarro and Mnuchin had an an­gry ex­change on the Bei­jing trip and ties were so strained some par­tic­i­pants openly won­dered how they would get along on the same plane on the long US-China flights, a per­son fa­mil­iar with the episode said.

The Wash­ing­ton talks will start as USTR fin­ishes up pub­lic hear­ings on the first batch of US tar­iffs on US$50 bil­lion worth of Chinese goods proposed as pun­ish­ment for al­leged vi­o­la­tions of US in­tel­lec­tual rights.

The tar­iffs, which tar­get Chinese elec­tri­cal and ma­chin­ery part, au­tos and flat-screen tele­vi­sion sets, could take ef­fect in early June, and may be fol­lowed by an ad­di­tional round tar­get­ing $100 bil­lion worth of Chinese goods yet to be iden­ti­fied.

China has promised to re­tal­i­ate in equal mea­sure, tar­get­ing US soy­beans, air­craft, au­tos and other goods for ad­di­tional tar­iffs, caus­ing US farm com­mod­ity prices to fall.

No dis­cus­sions on ZTE

The law­mak­ers said the meet­ing did not ad­dress Trump’s pledge on Sun­day to help Chinese telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions equip­ment maker ZTE Corp get back in busi­ness af­ter a Com­merce Depart­ment ban cut off its sup­ply of US com­po­nents.

Trump said in tweets on Wed­nes­day that “noth­ing has hap­pened” with China’s ZTE Corp and that Bei­jing has “much to give” Wash­ing­ton on trade, deny­ing sug­ges­tions that his ad­min­is­tra­tion was “fold­ing” in ne­go­ti­a­tions with Bei­jing.

Trump on Mon­day had de­fended his de­ci­sion to re­visit penal­ties on ZTE for flout­ing US sanc­tions on trade with Iran, in part by say­ing it was re­flec­tive of the larger trade deal the United States is ne­go­ti­at­ing with China.

“Noth­ing has hap­pened with ZTE ex­cept as it per­tains to the larger trade deal,” Trump wrote on Twit­ter.

“We have not seen China’s de­mands yet, which should be few in that pre­vi­ous US Ad­min­is­tra­tions have done so poorly in ne­go­ti­at­ing. The US has very lit­tle to give, be­cause it has given so much over the years. China has much to give!”

FBI Di­rec­tor Christo­pher Wray told a Se­nate panel on Wed­nes­day that the law en­force­ment agency is “deeply con­cerned” about any com­pany like China’s ZTE gain­ing po­si­tions of power in the US telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions mar­ket. — REUTERS

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