Bilateral pacts will be void if U.S. imposes tariffs: China

Balancing trade:  U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross with Chinese Vice Premier Liu He in Beijing on Sunday.

Balancing trade: U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross with Chinese Vice Premier Liu He in Beijing on Sunday.

China warned the U.S. on Sunday that any agreements reached on trade and business between the two countries will be void if Washington implements tariffs and other trade measures, as the two ended their latest round of talks in Beijing.

A short statement, carried by the official Xinhua news agency, made no mention of any specific new agreements after U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross met Chinese Vice Premier Liu He. It referred instead to a consensus they reached last month in Washington, when China agreed to increase significantly its purchases of U.S. goods and services.

Tariff threats

The United States and China have threatened tit-for-tat tariffs on goods worth up to $150 billion each. Xinhua said China’s attitude had been consistent and that it was willing to increase imports from all countries, including the United States. “Reform and opening up and expanding domestic demand are China’s national strategies. Our established rhythm will not change,” it added.

“The achievements reached by China and the United States should be based on the premise that the two sides should meet each other halfway and not fight a trade war,” Xinhua said. “If the United States introduces trade sanctions including raising tariffs, all the economic and trade achievements negotiated by the two parties will be void.”

There was no immediate comment or statement from the U.S. delegation or from Mr. Ross himself.

At the end of last month’s Washington talks the two countries released a joint statement. But just when it appeared a trade truce between the two economic heavyweights was on the cards, the White House last week warned it would pursue tariffs on $50 billion worth of Chinese imports, as well as impose restrictions on Chinese investments in the United States and tighter export controls.

Mr. Ross arrived in Beijing on Saturday for talks after the Trump administration renewed tariff threats against China, and with key U.S. allies in a foul mood towards Washington after they were hit with duties on steel and aluminium.

Addressing Mr. Liu earlier in the day at the start of their formal talks at a government guest house, Mr. Ross praised the tone of their interactions. “Our meetings so far have been friendly and frank, and covered some useful topics about specific export items,” Mr. Ross said, in brief comments before reporters.

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Printable version | Aug 14, 2022 9:21:02 pm |