Donald Trump and Xi Jinping to meet after fresh stand-off
14 May 2019
A day after the United States brought back its punitive tariffs on $200 billion of Chinese goods and China announced higher tariffs on a range of US goods, including frozen vegetables and liquefied natural gas, US President Donald Trump on Monday said he would meet Chinese President Xi Jinping next month.
China said on Monday it planned to set import tariffs ranging from 5 per cent to 25 per cent on 5,140 US products on a $60 billion target list. It said the tariffs would take effect on 1 June.
"China's adjustment on additional tariffs is a response to US unilateralism and protectionism," its finance ministry said. "China hopes the US will get back to the right track of bilateral trade and economic consultations and meet with China halfway."
In the middle of the negotiations last week, Trump hiked tariffs on $200 billion of Chinese goods to 25 per cent from 10 per cent. The move affected 5,700 categories of Chinese products, including internet modems and routers.
The US blames China for stalling trade talks by deleting commitments from a draft agreement that its laws would be changed to enact new policies on issues from intellectual property protection to forced technology transfers.
China ignored US President Trump’s warnings not to retaliate against American tariffs on Chinese products and slapped tariffs on $60 billion worth of American imports and spooking the world bracing for a trade war.
Trump, who sticks to his "America First" agenda, said he would talk to Xi at a G20 summit in late June.
"Maybe something will happen," Trump said in remarks at the White House. "We're going to be meeting, as you know, at the G20 in Japan and that'll be, I think, probably a very fruitful meeting."
At the same time, Trump warned Beijing to mend fences now before things get out of control.
Beijing said it would never surrender to external pressure. Its state media said the door to talks was always open but vowed that China would defend its national interests and dignity.
“China will never succumb to foreign pressure,” the country’s foreign ministry said in a statement about the retaliatory move that will kick in tariffs against more than 5,000 US products on June 1. “We are determined and capable of safeguarding our legitimate rights and interests. We still hope that the US will meet us halfway.”
The US Trade Representative's office said it planned to hold a public hearing next month on the possibility of imposing duties of up to 25 per cent on a further $300 billion worth of imports from China. Cellphones and laptops would be included in that list but pharmaceuticals would be excluded, the office said.
While there is the prospect of the trade dispute between United States and China spiralling into a no-holds-barred trade war, the fact remains that China and the US cannot live without each other.
The Chinese government's top diplomat, State Councilor Wang Yi, said during a trip to Russia that China-US talks were not a "one-way street" and needed to be conducted on the basis of equality, according to China's Foreign Ministry.
"Both countries' negotiating teams have the ability and wisdom to resolve each other's reasonable demands, and in the end reach a mutually beneficial, win-win agreement," he said.
The comment period on the planned new tranche of U.S. duties - which covers 3,805 product categories - is much shorter than in previous rounds and could potentially leave Trump in a position to trigger those tariffs by the time he meets Xi.
U.S. farmers are among those most hurt by the trade war, with soybean sales to China plummeting and U.S. soybean futures hitting their lowest level in a decade. Trump said on Monday his administration was planning to provide about $15 billion to help farmers whose products might be targeted.
Trump has said he is in no rush to finalise a deal with China. He again defended the move to hike US tariffs and said there was no reason why American consumers would pay the costs.