The most recent round of trade talks between the United States and China in Beijing ended Sunday with a pledge from both the U.S. and Chinese sides to narrow the trade surplus China currently enjoys in trade with United States. However, if the U.S. President imposes tariffs on Chinese goods, no deal can be struck.
There was no joint statement from the two sides although China issued a statement on its own claiming that the two countries “have made positive and concrete progress” although specific details “remain to be confirmed.”
Trump’s threat made last Tuesday to go ahead with 25% tariffs on $50 billion worth of Chinese high-tech goods led China to say that if U.S. tariffs are imposed China will retaliate.
China’s official Xinhua News Agency cited the Chinese statement:
All economic and trade outcomes of the talks will not take effect if the US side imposes any trade sanctions including raising tariffs.
Negotiations, according to the Chinese, “should be based on the prerequisite that the two parties meet each other halfway and will not engage in a trade war.”
The U.S. trade deficit with China totaled $375.2 billion last year and Trump wants the Chinese to commit to reducing that number by $200 billion. China is unwilling to make such a commitment because it would likely scuttle the country’s plans to be a major player in the international technology sector.
Trump’s decision announced Thursday to place tariffs on steel and aluminum imports from Canada, Mexico, and Europe only heightened China’s resolve not to give in to U.S. demands. If that’s the way the U.S. president plans to treat his allies, the Chinese are wary of how he will treat his rivals.