US-China trade war: Beijing sends negotiator to Washington to ease tensions, says it welcomes dialogue on basis of 'reciprocity, equity'

Beijing: China will send a top negotiator to the US in late August to resume trade talks, the commerce ministry said on Thursday, the first public meeting on the subject in weeks as the trade conflict intensifies.

Vice Commerce Minister Wang Shouwen, the deputy representative on international trade negotiations, will meet with a senior US treasury official, David Malpass, at the invitation of the US, the ministry said in a statement.

File image of US president Donald Trump and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping. AP

File image of US president Donald Trump and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping. AP

"The Chinese side reiterates that it opposes unilateralism and trade protectionism practices and does not accept any unilateral trade restriction measures," the ministry said.

"China welcomes dialogue and communication on the basis of reciprocity, equality and integrity." US Commerce Minister Wilbur Ross held talks with Chinese Vice Premier Liu He in Beijing in June.

But the discussions failed to reduce tensions as the US slapped tariffs on $34 billion worth of Chinese goods in early July, triggering an immediate dollar-for-dollar retaliation from Beijing.

The two countries plan to launch a new round of tit-for-tat tariffs on $16 billion worth of goods from each country on 23 August.

Washington has also lined up an additional $200 billion in Chinese imports and US President Donald Trump said he could raise tariffs on those products to 25 percent instead of the previously touted 10 percent.

"It is hard to tell how the talks will go but it's a positive signal that the two countries are looking for some compromise plan," said Makoto Sengoku, market analyst at Tokai Tokyo Research Institute.

"If they were determined to fight it out, they wouldn't meet," he told AFP.

Chinese officials say the tariffs have yet to make an impact on the country's economy, with its exports even beating forecasts in July.

But analysts warned that China could feel the full effect of tariffs in August.

Trump has boasted that trade wars are "easy to win" and warned he would hit virtually all Chinese imports if Beijing does not back down and take steps to reduce its $335 billion surplus with the US.

China does not import enough from the US to match Washington dollar-for-dollar, but it has warned that it could fire back with other measures.

The yuan has declined in recent weeks, helping Chinese exporters as it makes their products cheaper, but it could fuel tensions with Trump, who has accused Beijing of manipulating its currency.


Updated Date: Aug 16, 2018 10:39 AM

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