China denies setting target to cut United States trade surplus

Mae Love
May 26, 2018

"We're putting the trade war on hold", Mnuchin said. Despite that, in true Trumpian fashion, the President has declared resounding victory.

The Trump administration did a fantastic job of shaking the cage and awakening the paranoid patriot inside each of the Senators with stories of spies and bugs in telco equipment, but now the President is struggling to keep a lid on the situation.

The U.S. and China recently held high-level talks in Washington which Beijing agreed to help reduce the trade gap. The Palo Alto, Calif. -based company has been working with Shanghai's government since previous year to explore assembling cars in China.

President Xi Jinping said in April that China would "considerably lower" tariffs on cars by the end of the year as part of a range of measures seen as an olive branch to Trump with the two countries embroiled in the trade spat. Trump is seemingly finding this out very quickly. He told reporters on the South Lawn that while Mexico and Canada have been "very hard to deal with" during the negotiations, "I will tell you in the end we win, we will win and will win big".

"China has made a fortune" from the USA, he said while meeting with the president of South Korea at the White House.

China imported 280,208 vehicles, or 10% of total imported automobiles, from the USA last year, according to China's Passenger Car Association, an industry trade body. Clearly, any successful campaign to improve America's trade position had to go through Beijing. But Trump may be the first leader ever to do it when the economy is booming.

Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross is scheduled to travel to Beijing on June 2 for further discussions over China's aggressive push to challenge USA technological dominance. The president spared Canada, Mexico and the European Union from the tariffs.

Both sides are aiming for something more than just trade. "And 15 per cent is still a significant tariff". The Trump administration wanted to essentially slice that deficit in half. China's trade surplus with the U.S. was a record $375 billion in 2017.

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The Wall Street Journal reported this morning that the White House and the Chinese government have reached a tentative agreement to rescind the U.S. Commerce Department's ban on sales of U.S. components to ZTE.

ZTE may have been thrown a lifeline by the Chinese government. The pushback from Congress was immediate. "If the 25 percent tariffs are implemented as proposed, they would represent a tax increase on US manufacturers and their industrial, commercial, and residential customers valued at about $2.25 billion". They didn't get any.

"By shutting them down, we're hurting a lot of American companies, really good American companies". In a fortuitous coincidence for China, the trade talks are occurring at the same time that Trump is preparing for his nuclear summit with North Korea. Or China would have to suddenly start buying an unimaginable amount of goods.

Shenzhen, China-based ZTE depends on U.S. components, such as chips from Qualcomm Inc., to build its smartphones and networking gear. But with the Korea negotiations now officially dead, it appears as if Trump got nothing for his efforts.

U.S. Secretary of Treasury Steven Mnuchin told Fox News Sunday that the Trump administration was backing away from its threat to impose $150 billion tax on China as the two try to hash out their differences and establish a trade agreement. Mnuchin later confirmed to lawmakers that the decision does not affect a separate set of steel and aluminium tariffs that the USA has imposed on most countries, including China. Instead, they build the majority of cars they sell in China in that country. Apparently, the art of the deal is to pretend one exists when it doesn't.

Trump's latest probe will be conducted under Section 232 of a 1960s trade law, the same tool the president invoked in imposing global tariffs on imported steel and aluminum earlier this year.

China's move to ease controls on its auto market reflects growing official confidence in fledgling Chinese automakers and a desire to make the industry more flexible as Beijing promotes development of electric cars.

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