Ross arrives in Beijing for talks on trade surplus

Ross arrives in Beijing for talks on trade surplus

Ross arrives in Beijing for talks on trade surplus

The visit by Mr. Ross follows renewed tariff threats this week against China by the Trump administration, and as USA allies are in a foul mood with Washington after they were hit with duties on steel and aluminium.

U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross arrived in Beijing on Saturday aiming to secure more Chinese purchases of U.S. goods and energy, days after Washington intensified pressure in its dispute with China and infuriated allies with tariffs on metals.

Trump is pressing Beijing to narrow its politically volatile trade surplus with the United States, which reached a record $375.2 billion past year.

"China is willing to increase imports from other countries, including the United States, to satisfy the Chinese people's increasing consumption needs and the country's high-quality economic growth", the statement said.

Washington and Beijing have threatened tit-for-tat tariffs on goods worth up to $150 billion each.

Trump's announcement that he wanted to proceed with tariffs on China came less than two weeks after the two countries had said they were putting threats of tariffs on hold while they continued negotiating.

"To implement the consensus reached in Washington, the two sides have had good communication in various areas such as agriculture and energy, and have made positive and concrete progress while relevant details are yet to be confirmed by both sides", the statement by China said, Xinhua reported on Sunday.

President Donald Trump threw the status of the talks into doubt this week by renewing a threat to hike tariffs on $50 billion of Chinese goods over complaints Beijing steals or pressures foreign companies to hand over technology.

Following Chinese Vice Premier Liu He's talks with Ross, China referred instead to a consensus reached last month in Washington, when China agreed to increase significantly its purchases of USA goods and services.

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"Trump claims that he is seeking fairness and reciprocity in the U.S.' economic relationship with China, but so far he has sought to extort gains from China using the economic advantages the US has", it said.

Some people familiar with the matter have told Reuters that approval may depend on progress of broader talks and a reprieve from a US government ban on sales by USA companies to China's ZTE Corp., penalised for illegally supplying telecommunications gear to Iran and North Korea. Tuesday's announcement gave no indication whether the other increases might also go ahead.

"It has been a great pleasure to spend yesterday with you and we are especially grateful for last night's dinner", Ross said as he met with Liu at the Diaoyutai state guesthouse.

Beijing has resisted US pressure to commit to a firm target of narrowing its annual surplus with the United States by $200 billion. Liu's delegation included China's central bank governor and commerce minister.

"Our meetings so far have been friendly and frank, and covered some useful topics about specific export items", said Ross at the opening of Sunday's meeting.

The move reflects growing American concern about China's status as a potential tech competitor and complaints Beijing improperly subsidizes its fledgling industries and shields them from competition.

Foreign governments and businesses cite strategic plans such as "Made in China 2025", which calls for state-led efforts to create Chinese industry leaders in areas from robots to electric cars to computer chips.

The visit from the large U.S. delegation, with members from several executive branch agencies, came as fears of an all-out global trade war intensified after the European Union, Canada and Mexico drew up retaliatory measures to Washington's stinging steel and aluminium tariffs that went into effect on Friday.

That might alienate allies who share complaints about Chinese technology policy and a flood of low-cost steel, aluminum and other exports they say are the result of improper subsidies and hurt foreign competitors.

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