Talks end with China warning trade benefits at risk if US imposes tariffs


BEIJING (Reuters) - China warned the United States on Sunday that any agreements reached on trade and business between the two countries will be void if Washington implements tariffs and other trade measures, as the two ended their latest round of talks in Beijing. 

A short statement, carried by the official Xinhua news agency, made no mention of any specific new agreements after U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross met Chinese Vice Premier Liu He.

It referred instead to a consensus they reached last month in Washington, when China agreed to significantly increase its purchases of U.S. goods and services.

"To implement the consensus reached in Washington, the two sides have had good communication in various areas such as agriculture and energy, and have made positive and concrete progress," the state news agency said, adding details would be subject to "final confirmation by both parties".

SEE ALSO: China says will protect interests from 'reckless' US trade threats

The United States and China have threatened tit-for-tat tariffs on goods worth up to $150 billion each.

Xinhua said China's attitude had been consistent, that it was willing to increase imports from all countries, including the United States.

"Reform and opening up and expanding domestic demand are China's national strategies. Our established rhythm will not change," it added.

19 PHOTOS
Impact of trade tensions between US and China
See Gallery
Impact of trade tensions between US and China

Head chef Liang Xin poses with a piece of beef imported from the U.S. in the kitchen at Wolfgang's, a high-end steak house in East Beijing's Sanlitun district, China, April 6, 2018. Liang said U.S. beef has always been limited in China, so he doesn't know how customers would react if the restaurant has to raise prices.

(REUTERS/Thomas Peter)

Liu Anqi rolls dough in flour made from imported grain at the baking studio she runs with friends, in Beijing, China, April 12, 2018. Liu has just opened a bakery in Beijing with her friend. She also teaches customers how to make cakes with a brand of flour that uses only wheat from the United States and Canada. "Flour is one of the most important ingredients in baking and its quality varies with different brands," Liu said, adding that finding a new brand would be time-consuming and higher taxes on this wheat would force her to raise cake prices and tuition fees, which could turn customers away. 

(REUTERS/Thomas Peter)

A detail of the Harley-Davidson brand name is photographed on the motorcycle of Guo Qingshan in his village outside Beijing, China, April 7, 2018. "I love the sound of the engine and the muscle of the motor. When I ride it, I feel free and proud," Guo said. However, Guo has his limits. If prices rise, Guo said he wouldn't contemplate buying another Harley. 

(REUTERS/Thomas Peter)

Fried vegetables are seen in the kitchen of the restaurant where chef Liu Ming works, in Beijing, China, April 11, 2018. Liu said the oil that his restaurant uses is produced with soybeans imported from the United States, and the business won't change the brand even if prices rise. "We use this oil because it gives the food a bright colour and does not leave a strange smell or taste," he said. "We don't know what will happen to our dishes if we change the oil."

(REUTERS/Thomas Peter)

Xie Guoqiang, who runs the Vin Place wine and liquors store, poses for a photograph inside the shop in Beijing, China, April 10, 2018. Xie said in an interview that the tariffs would have little impact on his business, as the shop mostly imports wine and liquors from France, Chile, Austria and Argentina.

(REUTERS/Damir Sagolj)

A bottle of Jack Daniel's Tennessee whiskey is seen on a shelf at the Vin Place wine and liquors store in Beijing, China April 10, 2018. Xie Guoqiang, who runs Vin Place, said in an interview that the tariffs would have little impact on his business, as the shop mostly imports wine and liquors from France, Chile, Austria and Argentina.

(REUTERS/Damir Sagolj)

Liu Ming, a chef at a Sichuan restaurant in Beijing, poses for a picture at the back door of the kitchen where he works in Beijing, China, April 11, 2018. Liu said the oil that his restaurant uses is produced with soybeans imported from the United States, and the business won't change the brand even if prices rise. "We use this oil because it gives the food a bright colour and does not leave a strange smell or taste," he said. "We don't know what will happen to our dishes if we change the oil." 

(REUTERS/Thomas Peter)

Liu Anqi uses flour made from imported grain at the baking studio she runs with friends, in Beijing, China, April 12, 2018. Liu has just opened a bakery in Beijing with her friend. She also teaches customers how to make cakes with a brand of flour that uses only wheat from the United States and Canada. "Flour is one of the most important ingredients in baking and its quality varies with different brands," Liu said, adding that finding a new brand would be time-consuming and higher taxes on this wheat would force her to raise cake prices and tuition fees, which could turn customers away. 

(REUTERS/Thomas Peter)

A bottle of oil is seen in the kitchen of the restaurant where chef Liu Ming works, in Beijing, China, April 11, 2018. Liu said the oil that his restaurant uses is produced with soybeans imported from the United States, and the business won't change the brand even if prices rise. "We use this oil because it gives the food a bright colour and does not leave a strange smell or taste," he said. "We don't know what will happen to our dishes if we change the oil." 

(REUTERS/Thomas Peter)

Zang Yi poses for a picture as her Tesla car is charging at a charging point in Beijing, China, April 13, 2018. Zang said if the trade tensions resulted in pricier U.S. imports, she wouldn't consider American brands when the time comes to buy a new car. "With the tariff, I would have to pay tax of 100,000 yuan to 200,000 yuan if I were to buy a new Tesla," she said. 

(REUTERS/Thomas Peter)

Zang Yi charges her Tesla car at a charging point in Beijing, China, April 13, 2018. Zang said if the trade tensions resulted in pricier U.S. imports, she wouldn't consider American brands when the time comes to buy a new car. "With the tariff, I would have to pay tax of 100,000 yuan to 200,000 yuan if I were to buy a new Tesla," she said. 

(REUTERS/Thomas Peter)

A Chinese woman tastes wine during a wine seminar in Beijing, China, April 14, 2018.

(REUTERS/Thomas Peter)

Shan Yuliang, salesperson at a cigarette and wine shop, poses with a carton of Marlboro cigarettes in Beijing, China, April 8, 2018. "The moment I saw the news about the trade war on the internet, I felt something big was coming. Previously I would not think about what brand to buy. Now I will give it a second thought and avoid buying American products to defend my country," Shan said. 

(REUTERS/Thomas Peter)

Wine tasting teacher Li Yangang poses for a picture during a wine seminar in Beijing, China, April 14, 2018. Li said in an interview that reduced sales of American wine in China would not hurt the local market because of its relatively small market share. "Australian wine and French wine would have a bigger impact," he said. 

(REUTERS/Thomas Peter)

Cartons of Marlboro cigarettes are seen stacked up on a shelf between Chinese cigarettes at a cigarette and wine shop in Beijing, China, April 8, 2018. 

(REUTERS/Thomas Peter)

Student He Bingzhang lights a Marlboro cigarette in Beijing, China, April 8, 2018. "I don't think the trade war would change my behaviour. I don't smoke a lot, probably one pack a month. Even if it costs 100 yuan, I would still buy Marlboro because it is affordable," He said. 

(REUTERS/Thomas Peter)

Student He Bingzhang poses for a picture as he smokes a Marlboro cigarette in Beijing, China, April 8, 2018. "I don't think the trade war would change my behaviour. I don't smoke a lot, probably one pack a month. Even if it costs 100 yuan, I would still buy Marlboro because it is affordable," He said. 

(REUTERS/Thomas Peter)

Guo Qingshan poses on his Harley-Davidson motorcycle in his village outside Beijing, China, April 7, 2018. "I love the sound of the engine and the muscle of the motor. When I ride it, I feel free and proud," Guo said. However, Guo has his limits. If prices rise, Guo said he wouldn't contemplate buying another Harley. 

(REUTERS/Thomas Peter)

Beef imported from the U.S. is seen at Wolfgang's, a high-end steak house in East Beijing's Sanlitun district, China, April 6, 2018. A 15-kg whole cut of beef from the United States is around 20 percent more expensive than its Australian counterpart, said Daniel Sui, deputy general manager at Wolfgang's. "Customers like U.S. beef because it tastes juicy and tender, but Wolfgang's only sells around seven to eight pieces of U.S. imported beef steak each day," Sui said. "The limited supply is because the Chinese government bans feed additives and only 5 percent of U.S. beef is qualified for export." 

(REUTERS/Thomas Peter)

HIDE CAPTION
SHOW CAPTION
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE

"The achievements reached by China and the United States should be based on the premise that the two sides should meet each other halfway and not fight a trade war," Xinhua said.

"If the United States introduces trade sanctions including raising tariffs, all the economic and trade achievements negotiated by the two parties will be void."

There was no immediate comment or statement from the U.S. delegation or from Ross himself.

At the end of last month's Washington talks the two countries put out a joint statement.

But just when it appeared a trade truce between the two economic heavyweights was on the cards, the White House last week warned it would pursue tariffs on $50 billion worth of Chinese imports, as well as impose restrictions on Chinese investments in the United States and tighter export controls.

State-run Chinese newspaper the Global Times said in an editorial on its website that China needed to prepare for the long haul due to the U.S. propensity for changing its mind and coming up with new demands.

"Tariffs and expanding exports - the United States can't have both," it said. "China-U.S. trade negotiations have to dig up the two sides' greatest number of common interests, and cannot be tilted toward unilateral U.S. interests."

Xinhua said in a separate commentary that the United States should not test China with any further flip-flops or provocations.

"The Chinese government's attitude of not wanting but also not fearing a trade war has never changed," it said.

Ross arrived in Beijing on Saturday for talks after the Trump administration renewed tariff threats against China, and with key U.S. allies in a foul mood toward Washington after they were hit with duties on steel and aluminum.

'FRIENDLY AND FRANK'

Addressing Liu earlier in the day at the start of their formal talks at a government guest house, Ross praised the tone of their interactions.

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

Liu spoke only to welcome Ross.

Neither man has made any other comments to the media.

Ross is expected to leave Beijing later on Sunday.

Liu, a Harvard-trained economist who is a trusted confidant of Chinese President Xi Jinping, is China's chief negotiator in the trade dispute.

U.S. 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.

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

Mnuchin, speaking at a G7 finance leaders meeting in Canada where he was the target of U.S. allies' anger over steel and aluminum 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.

"I want to be clear, this isn't just about buying more goods, this is about structural changes," Mnuchin said.

"But I also fundamentally believe that if there are structural changes that allow our companies to compete fairly, by definition, that will deal with the trade deficit alone."

The U.S. delegation at the Beijing talks included Under Secretary of Treasury for International Affairs David Malpass, Under Secretary of Agriculture for Trade and Foreign Agricultural Affairs Ted McKinney, and United States Trade Representative Chief Agricultural Negotiator Gregg Doud.

Other officials and technical experts from the Department of Commerce, Department of Treasury, United States Trade Representative, Department of Agriculture, and Department of Energy also took part, the White House said.

China's delegation included central bank governor Yi Gang, Commerce Minister Zhong Shan, and Ning Jizhe, a deputy head of the powerful planning body the National Development and Reform Commission.

Ross, who was preceded in Beijing last week by more than 50 U.S. officials, is expected during the two-day visit to try to secure long-term purchases of U.S. farm and energy commodities to help shrink the U.S. trade deficit.

The U.S. team also wants to secure greater intellectual property protection and an end to Chinese subsidies that have contributed to overproduction of steel and aluminum.

 

(Additional reporting by Michael Martina; Editing by Robert Birsel)

Read Full Story