China trade talks breakdown is 'just a small setback'

Steven Mnuchin and Liu He

"The only problem is that they know I am going to win", he tweeted.

The U.S. gave its bottom line, saying Beijing had three to four weeks more to reach an agreement before the Trump administration enacts additional tariffs on $325 billion of Chinese imports not now covered by punitive duties, according to two people familiar with the talks.

However, the trade talks suffered a major setback last week when China proposed extensive revisions to a draft agreement.

This marks a sharp escalation in tension between the world's two largest economies.

Daniel Ikenson, a trade policy expert at the libertarian Cato Institute, which has opposed Trump's tariffs, calculated that an across-the-board 25 per cent levy on Chinese imports may amount to a tax on American consumers of as much as US$135 billion, based on the US$543 billion in goods imported in 2018 as a baseline.

Earlier on Friday, the United States increased its tariffs on $200 billion of Chinese goods to 25% from 10%.

By targeting American companies in China retaliation has been extended by regulators.

In a statement Friday, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer revealed the President had ordered him to begin the process of raising tariffs on essentially all remaining imports from China.

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China wanted to delete prior commitments that Chinese laws would be changed to enact new policies on issues from intellectual property protection to forced technology transfers.

US President Donald Trump has told China that now is the time to act to make a trade deal with the United States. "It's inevitable", he said, as per Bloomberg.

But Liu told reporters the talks had been "productive" and said the two sides would meet again in Beijing at an unspecified date. On Monday, two USA warships sailed near disputed islands in the South China Sea, challenging Beijing's claims for the third time this year while the US on Thursday barred China Mobile Ltd. from the USA market citing espionage concerns.

China clarified its list of demands before signing an agreement. China threatened to retaliate if Trump jumped with his threat. "It's very simple!" the president tweeted. Similar to Liu, Chinese state media said China would not give in on its core interests.

Liu emphasized "differences are significant issues of principle", and "we absolutely can not make concessions on such issues of principle". As noted by a commentary by state news agency Xinhua, any purchases should be "in line with reality". Not only in the U.S. and China, it would also hurt businesses elsewhere in the world. Well, the new plans seem to still be works in progress, written in pencil rather than ink. Trump tweeted on Friday.

He said he did not believe the negotiations had broken down. He added that the latest tariffs, which went into effect on Friday, would produce "massive payments" that would go directly to the US Treasury Department. For the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq it was the worst since December.

Mr Liu also said the two sides were disagreeing over the amount of goods China would pledge to purchase from the United States to help reduce the American trade deficit.

Trump's views on trade helped forge his path to victory in states such as Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin and OH, where he linked the loss of manufacturing jobs to the North America Free Trade Agreement and other trade deals.

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