US, China launch trade talks
WASHINGTON The United States and China launch trade talks yesterday in a bid to avert a damaging tariff war, with the White Houses 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 Trumps 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 Chinas 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 Chinas 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 Chinas ZTE gaining positions of power in the US telecommunications market. REUTERS