China, US put upbeat spin on trade dispute

A staff member arranges cans of dry cranberries imported from the US at a store in the Nantong Free Trade Zone in Nantong, in China’s eastern Jiangsu province, on Tuesday
A staff member arranges cans of dry cranberries imported from the US at a store in the Nantong Free Trade Zone in Nantong, in China’s eastern Jiangsu province, on Tuesday
Image: STR LIANG SU/ AFP

China and the United States have agreed to keep talking about their trade dispute, the Chinese government said on Tuesday, as US President Donald Trump said he thought recent discussions in Beijing would be successful.

The slightly more optimistic comments came after both sides ramped up their trade war, with China announcing details of new tariffs against US imports on Monday, following a US move last week to target Chinese imports.

The US trade representative’s office said it planned to hold a public hearing in June on the possibility of imposing duties of up to 25% on a further $300bn (R4.2-trillion) worth of imports from China.

Cellphones and laptops would be included in that list, but pharmaceuticals would be excluded, the office said.

The prospect of the global economy being derailed by the US and China sliding into a fiercer, more protracted dispute has rattled investors and sparked a sharp selloff on equities markets in the past week.

“My understanding is that China and the US have agreed to continue pursuing relevant discussions.

“As for how they are pursued, I think that hinges upon further consultations between the two sides,” Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang told a daily news briefing, without giving details.

“We hope that the US side does not misjudge the situation and underestimate China’s determination and will to safeguard its interests.”

Sources have said talks stalled after China tried to delete commitments from a draft agreement that its laws would be changed to enact new policies on issues from intellectual property protection to forced technology transfers.

Trump repeated the rhetoric of his “America First” agenda in tweets on Tuesday.

“We are in a fantastic position,” he wrote.

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