New US tariffs would make trade deals void, China says

Commerce Secretary To Press China To Buy As Allies Seethe Over Tariffs

US Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross started to meet officials in Beijing on Saturday for talks on China's promise to buy more American goods after Washington revived tensions by renewing its threat of higher tariffs on mainland hi-tech exports.

But state news agency Xinhua carried a statement which warned against a trade war and said the two sides should meet each other half way.

Mnuchin, speaking at a G7 finance leaders meeting in Canada where he was the target of United States allies' anger over steel and aluminium tariffs, said the China talks would cover other issues, including the Trump administration's desire to eliminate Chinese joint venture requirements and other policies that effectively force technology transfers.

USA treasury secretary Steven Mnuchin said on Saturday the United States wanted this weekend's talks to result in structural changes to China's economy, in addition to increased Chinese purchases of American goods.

China has also threatened to hit back with tit-for-tat tariffs on tens of billions of dollars in USA goods.

Ross, who was preceded in Beijing this week by more than 50 USA officials, was expected during the two-day visit to try to secure long-term purchases of US farm and energy commodities to help shrink a $375 billion trade deficit with China.

A White House statement last week, which took aim at years of "unfair" trade practices, warned the United States would pursue 25% tariffs on $50bn (£37bn) worth of Chinese imports.

The American Embassy in Beijing did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Canada plans to impose tariffs of up to 25% on about $13bn worth of U.S. exports from 1 July.

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The purchases are partly aimed at shrinking the $375 billion USA goods trade deficit with China.

He said Washington would use its move on Tuesday to slap punitive tariffs on Chinese imports as a bargaining chip.

On the Chinese side, officials including Commerce Minister Zhong Shan, Central Bank Governor Yi Gang, Vice Agricultural Minister Han Jun, and Li Fanrong, vice minister of national energy administration, accompanied Liu in the talks, according to a media pool report.

Beijing has resisted U.S. pressure to commit to a firm target of narrowing its annual surplus with the United States by $200 billion.

"Our meetings so far have been friendly and frank, and covered some useful topics about specific export items", Ross said.

Ross and Liu held a working dinner Saturday ahead of their talks.

The US pressure over technology policy reflects growing American concern about China's status as a potential competitor and complaints Beijing improperly subsidizes its fledgling industries and shields them from competition.

At the center of the row was the White House's decision to slap tariffs on steel and aluminum produced by key United States allies in the European Union and Canada.

That might alienate allies who share complaints about Chinese technology policy and a flood of low-cost steel, aluminum and other exports they say are the result of improper subsidies and hurt foreign competitors.