US, China begin talks to resolve trade row

President Donald Trump's top advisers arrive in Beijing this week for talks on how to avoid a trade war between the world's two biggest economies

President Donald Trump's top advisers arrive in Beijing this week for talks on how to avoid a trade war between the world's two biggest economies

As U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and other officials head to Beijing this week for high-stakes trade talks with Chinese counterparts, they seek to correct an economic relationship with China that has become increasingly unbalanced - and, over the long term, unsafe - for the United States and other nations.

Those attending the seminar said that Chinese negotiators had a warm relationship with Steven Mnuchin, the Treasury secretary, who is a member of the American delegation and a former Goldman Sachs executive. Liu He, President Xi Jinping's top economic adviser, was heading the Chinese side in the talks, which analysts say appear unlikely to yield a breakthrough given the two sides' intensifying rivalry in strategic technologies.

USA -based trade experts said they expected Beijing to offer Trump's team a package of policy changes that may include some previously announced moves, such as a phase-out of joint venture requirements for some sectors, autos tariff reductions and increased purchases of US goods. "It is already in the process of opening them wider", the newspaper said.

Since joining the World Trade Organization in 2001, China has offered an economic grand bargain with two contradictory faces.

United States diplomats will use a two-day visit to cover a wide range of concerns about China's trade practices, ranging from Beijing's subsidies for technology development to its intellectual property practices. They have stated repeatedly that moves to open the country's economy will be made at a pace that suits Beijing, not as concessions to US demands.

Trucks transport containers at a port in Qingdao, Shandong province, China, Apr. 8, 2018.

China responded to that move by announcing it would impose the same amount of tariffs on American products including cars, planes and agricultural goods.

His administration has threatened to impose new tariffs on roughly $150 billion in Chinese goods.

The United States, the European Union and Japan have accused China of trading unfairly by subsidising bloated steel and aluminium sectors and flooding the world with cheap exports. However, it recently announced moves some observers see as partly answering the USA criticism. Should all the USA members talk at the meetings and listen to responses from Chinese officials of similar rank, through translation, the talks, at the government's Diaoyutai guesthouse complex, could drag on for hours. But it also requires foreign companies to provide key details about their technologies to Chinese partners.

Trump expressed hope about the new trade talks in a Twitter message late Wednesday.

Separately, as Mnuchin arrived in Beijing today, Trump tweeted: "Our great financial team is in China trying to negotiate a level playing field on trade!"

President Trump went on to say, he looks forward to meeting with his Chinese counterpart in the not too distant future. "We will always have a good (great) relationship!"

Washington is due to finalise its list of Chinese imports - worth US$50 billion - that will be subject to 25 per cent punitive tariffs later this month, and it could slap sanctions on another US$100 billion of products from China. That number comes after the deficit in February reached its highest level in nine years.

She reiterated that China welcomed the talks but that they had to be founded on equality and mutual respect.

She added: "The outcome should be mutually beneficial and win-win".

Christopher Balding is a professor at Peking University's HSBC Business School.

However, the U.S. side may be able to convince China the United States has fundamentally shifted tack on trade relations.

Since Xi Jinping rose to power in 2012, China has taken big steps to increase the central government and the communist party's control over the economy and business, even as Beijing pledges to continue to further open its markets.

Balding said he thinks the best result would be the two sides finding enough room to compromise to avoid getting into a possible trade war. Mario Ritter was the editor.

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