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US officials in Beijing to avert trade war
June 2, 2018, 4:30 pm

Beijing has strongly criticized the Trump administration for pushing tariffs on billions of dollars of imported goods from China but said it would fight to the end to protect its interests

US Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross has been downplaying the possibility of a global trade war with allies even as he heads to China Friday to meet with officials there to avert a similar economic standoff.

For the past three months the two economic giants have threatened each other with more than $200 billion worth of goods and products that would fall under new punitive tariffs.

Ross is hoping to cement a deal with the Chinese for them to boost their purchases of American made products including products from the Agriculture and energy sectors of the economy

This, Ross hopes, will reduce the $375 billion trade deficit with the Chinese which has been one of Donald Trump’s biggest irritants since he took to the campaign trail in 2015.

Even though he has maintained a positive working relationship with the Chinese president Xi Jinping Trump has also been consistent in blaming the Chinese for unfair Trade Practices.

Ross told CNBC on Thursday: “Our basic objectives with China are to sell them more product, get less in the way of tariff and non-tariff trade barriers, and then ultimately, and most importantly … deal with the problems of intellectual property, technology transfers, the whole litany of high-tech things.”

A US trade delegation, led by senior officials including Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, had previously been in Beijing in early May.

Beijing has maintained that consultation between China and the United States on economic and trade issues will be constructive as long as the US delegation comes with sincerity.

On Tuesday, the US went ahead with its threat to slap tariffs on $50 billion worth of Chinese export products to the US.

The Chinese have reiterated that they do not want a trade war but are ready to engage in one.

But Ross may have bit on much more than he can chew, especially with this week’s push to punish traditional us allies around the world.

On Friday, 25 per cent tariffs on steel and 10 per cent tariffs on aluminum were imposed on Canada and Mexico – two countries currently renegotiating the North American Free Trade Agreement with the US.

There are fears about the potential negative impact on American businesses and the consumer public that a European and Chinese backlash could produce.

Canada, the European Union, Mexico and China are studying a long list of American-made consumer products that would fall under their tariff penalties.

And these countries are making no secrets of their distaste for the Trump administration’s new tariff policies.

“These tariffs are totally unacceptable,” said Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Thursday. He promised retaliatory measures.

The EU has an eight-page list of US products such as orange juice, clothing and motorbikes which would fall under their levies.

By Firas Al-Atraqchi for the BRICS Post with inputs from Agencies

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