US, China "Very Far Apart" On Trade, Ambassador Warns


Despite Trump apparently folding in the ongoing trade war with China by consenting to reingage Chinese telecom ZTE, the two sides remain far apart in the ongoing discussions how to shrink the US trade deficit (and Chinese surplus), and as US Ambassador to China Terry Branstad said on Tuesday, the US wants China to give a timetable on how it will open up its markets to US exports as the two countries are still “very far apart” on resolving trade frictions.

Terry Branstad, US ambassador to China

While a US delegation led by Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin presented China earlier this month with a list of demands to tackle allegations of intellectual property theft and other trade policies Washington considers unfair, it failed to achieve any success and the two countries failed to reach an agreement on the long list of US demands and decided to resume talks in Washington.

Branstad, who was present at the meeting, said the Chinese appeared to be “taken back” by the significance of the list, and said that “The Chinese have said ‘we want to see the specifics.’ We gave them all the specifics in terms of trade issues. So they can’t say they don’t know what we’re asking for.”

“We’re still very far apart,” Branstad said quoted by the SCMP, adding that China has not met pledges to open up its insurance and financial services area, as well as reduce car tariffs.

“There are many areas where China has promised to do but haven’t. We want to see a timetable. We want to see these things happen sooner than later,” he said at a conference in Tokyo.

Branstad also said US President Donald Trump would like to see a “dramatic increase” in food exports to China. “We’d like to see China being just as open as the United States,” he said.

As is well known, the Trump administration has drawn a hard line in trade talks with China, demanding a US$200 billion cut in the Chinese trade surplus with the United States, sharply lower tariffs and advanced technology subsidies. Trump has proposed tariffs on US$50 billion of Chinese goods under its “Section 301” probe. Those could go into effect in June following the completion of a 60-day consultation period, but activation plans have been kept vague.

Meanwhile, China warned that its own retaliatory tariffs on US goods, including soybeans and aircraft, will go into effect if the US duties are imposed.

Branstad said the United States could rescind the “Section 301” tariffs if China moved forward on opening up its agriculture and car markets.

“I think it could be adjusted,” he said. “It’s possible, depending upon how the trade talks go.” Increasing US exports of liquified natural gas could also be an area the two countries could agree on as trade talks resume in Washington this week, he said.

“The United States and China are the two biggest economies in the world. The more we can work things out, the better it’s going to be not just for US and China, but for the entire world economy,” he said.

On Tuesday morning, just as China’s Vice Premier Liu He arrives with a Chinese delegation in Washington Tuesday through Saturday to continue trade negotiations, Trump tweeted that “Trade negotiations are continuing with China. They have been making hundreds of billions of dollars a year from the U.S., for many years. Stay tuned!”
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Author: HEDGE

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