Representatives of the US and China ended their talks on Friday without sharing details on the results, with US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin describing them only as “constructive.”
China’s Vice Premier Liu He said the talks went “fairly well,” according to Bloomberg.
Hu Xijin, editor-in-chief of the Chinese newspaper Global Times, cited “an authoritative source,” to report that “talks didn’t break down. Both sides think that the talks are constructive and will continue consultations. The two sides agree to meet again in Beijing in the future.”
The talks were burdened by Donald Trump’s announcement that he would hike up tariffs on $200 billion (€178 billion) of Chinese goods entering the United States.
The measure took effect on Friday, but US authorities said it would not apply to good which had already left China’s ports. Shipping goods from China to the US takes between three and four weeks, so the caveat gives the negotiators extra time to overcome the crisis.
Meanwhile, US President Donald Trump said talks with Beijing were continuing “in a very congenial manner – there is absolutely no need to rush – as Tariffs are NOW being paid to the United States by China of 25% on 250 Billion Dollars worth of goods & products.”
Consumer products — including cell phones, computers, clothing and toys — are especially targeted by the tariff rate increases from 10% to 25%.
China’s Commerce Ministry expressed its “deep regret” and warned that Beijing will not “capitulate to any pressure.” Without elaborating, it threatened to take “necessary countermeasures.”
Tension between the US and China has heightened after the White House accused Beijing of watering down commitments to trade reform — a claim strongly rejected by China.
US pledges more money to soybean farmers
Separately, US Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue said that Donald Trump had asked him to come up with a plan to help American farmers to cope with the consequences of US-China trade war. The standoff has hit US soybean farmers particularly hard, with shipments to China dropped to a 16-year low last year. This week’s prices of the crop are the lowest in over a decade.
The Department of Agriculture did not provide details on the plan. It is believed it would be implemented as a second round of assistance for farmers after the authorities gave out $12 billion to compensate for lost sales and dropping prices.
On Twitter, Trump said the US would use the income from tariffs to buy “agricultural products from our Great Farmers, in larger amounts than China ever did, and ship it to poor & starving countries in the form of humanitarian assistance.”
Chinese Vice Premier Liu He, US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin talked for 90 minutes on Thursday. Officials did not speak to reporters as they left but, following the talks, Trump held a meeting with Lighthizer and Mnuchin.
Liu He told Chinese state television that he had come to the talks “with sincerity” but that they had “run into some problems.”
Negotiations to rescue a trade deal then continued on Friday, with the editor-in-chief of China’s Global Times, Hu Xijin saying they would continue in Beijing at an unspecified date.
Trump announced the tariff hike on Sunday, expressing frustration with the pace of the talks.
While the US president said a trade deal was still possible — adding that he had received a “very beautiful” letter from Chinese President Xi Jinping — he repeated his warning.
“I am different than a lot of people,” Trump said. “I happen to think that tariffs, for our country, are very powerful.”
Read more: China records slowest growth rate in nearly 30 years
The possibility of an escalation in the dispute has rattled stock markets around the world.
Philip Wee, of the Singapore-based DBS Bank, warned in a report that a tariff hike and a breakdown in talks meant that “risks of a financial market collapse, extreme risk aversion, and sharp slowdown in global growth will spike.”
Washington has demanded significant reforms to the Chinese economy, such as subjecting state enterprises to market principles, a reduction of massive subsidies and curbing the alleged theft of US intellectual property.
rc,dj/jm (AFP, AP, Reuters)
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