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U.S., China End Latest Trade Talks Without Settlement

04 June 2018

"Trump's strategy does no favors for the moderates like trade negotiator Liu He who are eager to take China down a more manageable path of market and financial reforms, and such reforms would indeed be good for US commercial interests", said James Zimmerman, a partner in the Beijing office of the law firm Perkins Coie and a former chairman of the American Chamber of Commerce in China.

"The more Trump is irritating allies and asking Chinese to buy stuff, the better off they are, because he's not sitting there and attacking the hard issues", the person said.

No formal trade deals came out of that meeting, but China agreed last month to "significantly increase purchases of United States goods and services", according to a White House statement.

U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Saturday that the push to have China purchase more American goods was partially meant to shrink a $375 billion U.S. trade deficit with the country.

"If the United States launches trade sanction measures, including the imposition of tariffs, then all the economic and trade benefits negotiated by both sides are not going to take effect".

The White House threw the meeting's status into doubt Tuesday by renewing a threat to impose 25 percent tariffs on $50 billion of Chinese high-tech goods in response to complaints Beijing steals or pressures foreign companies to hand over technology.

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Mr Trump has threatened to raise tariffs on a total of up to $US150 billion ($198 billion) of Chinese goods.

Beijing said the two sides had made "positive and concrete progress" on matters like increasing agricultural and energy imports but said details were left for "both sides to finalise".

China has warned that agreements to buy more American goods will be void if Washington goes ahead with sanctions and other punitive trade actions.

US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said the dispute was "on hold" and the tariff hike would be postponed.

In the U.S., China hawks have been wary of the deal that Secretary Ross pursued in Beijing.

Ross and Liu held a working dinner Saturday ahead of their talks.

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"It has been a tense and tough G7 - I would say it's been far more a G6 plus one than a G7", said Le Maire, who called the tariffs unjustified.

China's exports have mushroomed since it joined the World Trade Organization in 2001, making it the world's second-largest economy. "Our established rhythm will not change", it said. China pledged to take steps to "substantially" reduce the USA trade deficit, including by buying more American farm goods and energy, though it didn't commit to a dollar amount. Critics say that the deal risks making the USA a supplier of raw materials to fuel China's expansion and plans to dominate high-tech manufacturing.

The two-day talks in Beijing which ended on Sunday followed an earlier round in Washington where officials had met to discuss the situation. "China's attitude on a trade war remains the same and will always be consistent".

The U.S. team had also wanted to secure greater intellectual property protection and an end to Chinese subsidies that have contributed to overproduction of steel and aluminum.

The visit from the large United States 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.

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U.S., China End Latest Trade Talks Without Settlement