United States commerce chief to meet Chinese vice premier for trade talks

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The United States wants trade talks in Beijing this weekend to result in structural changes to China's economy, in addition to increased Chinese purchases of American goods, U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said on Saturday. It says the two sides have made concrete progress on many areas but the details are left for final approval.

US Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross arrived in Beijing today as he seeks to persuade Chinese officials to import significantly more North American goods and remove structural barriers even as the USA faces pushback over new tariff threats imposed on some of its closest allies.

His promise comes after Canada, Mexico and China have threatened levies on American agriculture goods in response to new USA tariffs and American farmers, who helped put Trump in the White House, worry they will take the brunt of the worldwide anger at the president.

U.S. President Donald Trump first announced trade sanctions on China in March, largely focused on the Asian giant's theft of U.S. intellectual property.

Despite announcing a truce earlier this month, the United States is working to finalize planned sanctions on Beijing - including restrictions on Chinese investment, export controls and 25 percent tariffs on $50 billion in Chinese tech goods.

Washington wants Beijing to narrow its trade surplus. But the United States Commerce Secretary appeared to be the only one in a positive mood.

Ross made the brief remarks in front of reporters as he and Chinese Vice Premier Liu He, the top economic adviser to President Xi Jinping, prepared to continue the negotiations.

It is likely that China and the United States will find a way to work through their differences to avoid a broader trade war.

China has offered to purchase close to $70 billion worth of United States good over the next year, according to the Wall Street Journal.

China also signaled that it won't be pressured into making major changes to its economic policies.

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Tensions temporarily eased on May 19 after China promised to "significantly increase" its purchases of USA farm, energy and other products.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, who announced the tariff truce with China, said at the G7 summit in Canada that the U.S. was pushing for "structural changes" to the Chinese economy.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told CNBC after the preliminary deal that China could increase purchases of U.S. energy by $40 to $50 billion and up the value of their agricultural imports by 35% to 40%.

French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire referred to the "G6 plus one" and expressed "total incomprehension" over the USA actions.

The U.S. leader has also threatened to impose tariffs on an additional $100 billion in Chinese goods if Beijing retaliates.

Trump enraged US allies Canada, Mexico and the European Union last week by slapping tariffs on their steel and aluminum shipments to the United States; most other countries have been paying the tariffs since March.

Meanwhile, negotiations with Canada and Mexico regarding the North American Free Trade Agreement are turning toxic as those countries weigh retaliation against Washington for the new steel and aluminium tariffs. The San Diego-based firm is now waiting to see the outcome of the Ross talks before executives travel to China, a person familiar with the matter said on Saturday. The US and China have threatened each other with $US150 billion in tariffs.

After briefing reporters on the administration's decision to slap tariffs on imported steel from Canada, Mexico and the European Union, Ross arrived in Beijing for negotiations aimed at resolving a dispute over China's aggressive attempts to challenge USA technological supremacy.

The dispute with China comes at the same time Mr. Trump has riled some of America's closest allies with the imposition of tariffs on steel and aluminum imports. It shipped around 500,000 tons to China in 2017, making cotton the third most valuable USA farm export, behind soybeans and hides and skins.