China-US Trade War continues with no breakthrough in sight


Xi Jinping and Donald Trump

Trade talks between China and the US resumed this week, with China saying on Friday that the meetings were “constructive” even though tariffs have continued to be levied with no breakthrough yet in sight.

China’s Ministry of Commerce said on Friday that it had held “constructive meetings” with US officials after talks resumed between the countries over their ongoing trade spat.

Nonetheless, with no major breakthrough yet in sight, the resumption of talks did not prevent an additional $16 billion (€13.83 billion) of tariffs being levied by the US and China on each other’s goods, starting from Thursday.

Talks took place on Wednesday and Thursday aimed at defusing the escalating conflict, which has now seen both countries slap $50 billion in tariffs on the other’s products, with more expected to follow.

The Chinese news agency Xinhua reported that the officials on both sides have vowed to “keep in contact” in the future.

Meanwhile, a prominent Chinese state planner said on Friday that US tariffs on high-tech Chinese technology would have an impact on the tech sectors in both countries.

Ren Zhiwu, head of the high-tech department of China’s National Development and Reform Commission, said that US tariffs on Chinese goods in the sector would ultimately impact US companies and buyers, and that the Chinese intend to stick with their much-vaunted innovation strategies, regardless of the trade spat.

US President Donald Trump has consistently railed against Chinese trade practices, and if tariff threats his administration have made ultimately all come into effect, the US will eventually have to place levies on $250 billion worth of Chinese goods.

The Chinese have vowed to match US tariffs blow for blow, but in 2017, the country imported around $130 billion of US goods, in stark contrast to the nearly $500 billion worth of Chinese goods the US imported in 2017.

With no clear breakthrough achieved, Asian stocks fell slightly on Friday.

An editorial in the China Daily said Trump’s continuing to threaten more tariffs “believing it can bend Beijing to its will” was a mis-perception.

“If the tariff attacks are intended to ultimately block all Chinese imports to the US and discourage US companies from outsourcing operations to Chinese territories – as part of a strategy in the bigger geostrategic rivalry the Trump administration envisions – then the talks are not going to produce any substantial outcome.”

The Global Times newspaper quoted Bai Ming, deputy director of the Ministry of Commerce’s International Market Research Institute, as saying tensions may escalate if the US goes ahead with the $US200 billion tariff round next month.

“If China wants to retaliate against the $200 billion worth of tariffs, the targets will not be limited to imported US goods and are very likely to impact US services trade and investment in China,” Bai told the state newspaper.