US President Donald Trump’s senior economic aides are expected to meet this week with a top Chinese economic official to discuss trade disputes between the United States and China.
White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders told Reuters that Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Trump’s economic adviser, Gary Cohn, are set to meet Chinese economic adviser Liu He in Washington.
The talks are likely to cover a range of differences including intellectual property and steel, according to the report.
Trump has long called for a more balanced trade relationship with China and threatened to impose a big “fine” against China to protect American intellectual property.
“I don’t think we’ve ever had a better relationship with China than we do right now,” Trump told reporters last Friday. “The only thing that can get in its way is trade, because it so one-sided, it’s so lopsided.”
A senior US official said there was skepticism on the American side that a trade breakthrough could be achieved any time soon.
“We’re trying to treat this with an open mind. But the Chinese don’t really want to make a deal. They like the status quo,” Reuters cited the unidentified official as saying.
The US Commerce Department said on Tuesday that it is imposing duties on imports of aluminum foil from China after determining that the product is being sold in the US at less than their fair value.
“This administration is committed to trade that is fair and reciprocal, and we will not allow American workers and businesses to be harmed by unfair imports,” Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said.
Reuters cited a source close to the White House as saying that Trump had expressed interest in imposing a tariff of at least 24 percent on steel imports from China.
The Commerce Department recommended earlier this month that Trump impose stiff curbs on steel imports from China and other countries.
It offered the president several options ranging from global and country-specific tariffs to broad import quotas.
A blanket tariff on steel would cover every steel and aluminum product entering the American market from China.
China has said it will oppose any “unfair and unreasonable” trade measures.
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