China says still talking with US on trade

Frederick Owens
March 12, 2018

Canada, Mexico and Australia have secured exemptions from the tariffs of 25 percent on imported steel and 10 percent on aluminum announced by Trump, though Canada's and Mexico's were conditioned on progress renegotiating the North American Free Trade Agreement. Increased tariffs triggered an enormous controversy in the global community, the European Union and Japan demanded exceptions for themselves.

But the target of Trump's ire is China, whose capacity expansions have helped add to global surpluses of steel.

Mr Trump said on Saturday the USA was "working very quickly on a security agreement" so as not to impose the tariffs on "our ally, the great nation of Australia".

Zhong said that cooperation is the only choice for the 2 countries.

"There will be no winners in the trade war, it will cause disaster for China, USA and the whole world", the Minister said. "It will only bring disaster to China and the United States and the world".

Mr Zhong said an expert panel tasked with conducting a comparative study of differences in trade statistics between the two countries repeatedly found that the US' trade deficit with China was overestimated by about 20 per cent each year.

"Nobody wants to fight a trade war, and everyone knows fighting one harms others and does not benefit oneself", he continued. The figure for February fell slightly from the previous month to US$21 billion, according to the latest data from the customs administration.

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The US is the world's biggest importer of steel, purchasing 35 million tonnes of raw material in 2017.

China's metals industry has urged the government to retaliate against the tariffs, but Chinese steel accounts for only a small part of US steel imports.

Chinese leaders have threatened in the past to retaliate against raised trade barriers, but have yet to take direct action following Trump's announcement. China accounts for only a small fraction of United States steel imports, but its massive industrial expansion has helped create a global glut of steel that has driven down prices.

As China's exports surged in February its monthly surplus with the United States widened from a year earlier to $20.96 billion, according to data from the customs bureau.

"Today, I am defending America's national security by placing tariffs on foreign imports of steel and aluminum", Trump said in the White House.

Nonetheless, there is growing bipartisan consensus in Washington, and support within some segments of the U.S. business community, for the United States government to counter what are seen as Beijing's predatory industrial policies and market restrictions on foreign firms.

President Xi Jinping's top economic advisor Liu He held trade discussions with U.S. officials at the White House earlier this month but the meetings yielded few breakthroughs.

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