Trump downplays US-China trade fight, says talks ongoing

May 15, 2019 09:09
Donald Trump, pictured here speaking to workers at an energy facility in Louisiana on Tuesday, has insisted that the US-China trade talks have not collapsed. Photo: Reuters

US President Donald Trump on Tuesday called the trade war with China “a little squabble” and insisted talks between the world’s two largest economies had not collapsed, Reuters reports.

“We’re having a little squabble with China because we’ve been treated very unfairly for many, many decades,” Trump was quoted as saying.

Trump denied that talks with China had broken down after Washington punctuated two days of negotiations last week with another round of tariffs on Chinese imports, with Beijing following suit on Monday with higher tariffs on US goods.

“We have a dialogue going. It will always continue,” said the US president, who has announced plans to meet Chinese President Xi Jinping at a G20 summit in Japan late next month. 

Earlier, Trump tweeted that the US would make a deal with China when the “time is right” and said that would happen “much faster” than thought.

Earlier on Tuesday, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang told a daily news briefing that it was his understanding that China and the US had agreed to continue “pursuing relevant discussions.”

“As for how they are pursued, I think that hinges upon further consultations between the two sides,” Geng said.

US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin will plan for a trade meeting in China at some point, a Treasury spokesman said.

In a tweet earlier on Tuesday, Trump appealed to China to buy US farm products.

On Monday, he said his administration would provide about US$15 billion in aid to American farmers whose products were targeted by Chinese tariffs.

He did not provide details on the plan, which follows US$12 billion in similar farm aid last year.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said on Tuesday that “nobody wins a trade war” but added that he hopes Trump’s tactics in negotiations China would put the US in a better position to move talks forward with Beijing.

As negotiations toward resolving the US-China trade war stalled last week, Washington raised the pressure by increasing tariffs to 25 percent from 10 percent on a previous, US$200 billion list of Chinese imports.

China retaliated on Monday with higher tariffs on a revised list of US$60 billion worth of US products.

Trump could launch 25 percent tariffs on another US$300 billion worth of Chinese goods next month. The list may include a wide range of consumer goods, from cellphones and computers to clothing and footwear.

China is vowing not to succumb to such pressure. The foreign ministry in Beijing said on Tuesday that it hopes the US does not “underestimate China’s determination and will to safeguard its interests.”

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