Saturday 24 August 2019

Chinese envoy insists US trade talks have not broken down

Vice premier Liu He said the key remaining differences are matters of principle.

Chinese vice premier Liu He (AP)
Chinese vice premier Liu He (AP)

By Associated Press Reporters

China’s leading trade envoy has said the failure to strike a deal in the tariffs war with the US is “just a small setback”, and negotiations will continue despite increases in import duties on American imports from China.

Chinese vice premier Liu He told reporters in Washington he remains cautiously optimistic, but insisted that a deal would require the Trump administration to agree to end the punitive tariffs it has imposed on billions of dollars’ worth of Chinese goods.

In comments carried by China’s state-run CCTV, Mr Liu said the remaining differences are crucial ones having to do with principles, “and we will make no concessions on matters of principle”.

He said he did not believe the negotiations had broken down.

“On the contrary, I think it is just a small setback in the talks between two countries, which is inevitable,” Mr Liu told Hong Kong’s Phoenix TV.

Mr Liu said it was “China’s opinion that the tariffs are the starting point of the trade friction and must be totally lifted if a deal is reached”.

The Trump administration raised tariffs on billions of dollars of Chinese goods to 25% from 10% on Friday.

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Liu He waves as he departs the Office of the United States trade representative in Washington (AP)

US trade representative Robert Lighthizer said the US is preparing to expand those tariffs to cover 300 billion dollars (£230 billion) of Chinese products that are not already facing import taxes, or virtually everything imported from China.

Mr Liu also said the two sides disagreed over the amount of goods China would pledge to purchase from the US to help reduce the American trade deficit.

He said: “We think this is a very serious issue and we cannot easily change our minds.”

Mr Liu sought to downplay the scale and impact of the dispute, saying that China is a strong nation and would surmount any problems caused by the conflict.

“We just had differences on the wording in certain documents and we hoped to solve the differences,” he said.

“Therefore, we think it unnecessary to make an over-reaction to it.”

PA Media

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