Date
19 August 2018
Vice Premier Liu He is leading the Chinese delegation in trade talks with the United States in Washington this week. Photo: Bloomberg
Vice Premier Liu He is leading the Chinese delegation in trade talks with the United States in Washington this week. Photo: Bloomberg

US, China to resume talks in bid to avert trade war

The United States and China will resume trade talks on Thursday in a bid to avert a damaging tariff war, Reuters reports, citing senior Trump administration officials.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross and US Trade Representative (USTR) Robert Lighthizer will lead the American delegation in talks with Chinese Vice Premier Liu He in Washington, according to the report.

Peter Navarro, the White House trade and manufacturing adviser who has been a fierce China critic, will not be a principal player on the US side, officials were quoted as saying.

The 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 US$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.

Navarro, who has been the loudest “nationalist” voice on trade policy in the Trump administration and a major advocate for punitive tariffs on Chinese goods, attended an initial round of talks two weeks ago in Beijing.

His shift away from a lead role in the talks now comes amid a growing rift over trade policy with Mnuchin, who has favored more achievable deals to open China’s economy to US firms and ease tariff threats, Reuters noted.

Liu, who is China’s top economic official, told US lawmakers on Wednesday that he will work hard to address the US-China trade imbalance and other problems with the trading relationship. 

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CG/RC

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