Thu, 13 Aug 2020

Beijing to Washington: 'Meet China Halfway' to End Tariff War

Voice of America
22 Aug 2019, 04:05 GMT+10

Beijing appealed to Washington on Wednesday to "meet China halfway" on a new trade deal to end the tit-for-tat tariff war between the world's two biggest economies.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang expressed hope that the U.S. can "get along" with China and resume "mutually beneficial" trade.

Whether the new appeal would move the U.S. toward a new deal is questionable, although trade talks are set to resume in Washington next month. Just hours before China's appeal, U.S. President Donald Trump told reporters he was not ready to reach an accord with China until it agreed to more favorable terms on intellectual property deals and other disputes. The two sides also disagree on how to enforce an agreement.

Trump defended the tariff conflict with China, saying, "Somebody had to take China on. China has been ripping this country off for 25 years."

Trump blamed former U.S. presidents Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama for failing to confront China's trade policies.

"They all should have done it," Trump said. "I'm doing it."

He dismissed concerns about the possibility of hardship for American consumers caused by the tariffs he is imposing on Chinese imports they buy.

"Whether it's bad or good for the short term is irrelevant," Trump said. "I like doing this because someone had to."

In Beijing, Geng said, "We hope the United States will meet China halfway," and that the two countries can "work out a resolution that is acceptable to both sides on the basis of mutual respect and equal treatment."

Stock markets

China, which last year sold $419 billion more of its goods to the U.S. than American products it bought, has offered to narrow the trade surplus by buying more soybeans and other U.S. exports. But it has balked at discarding its industry development plans.

U.S. stock markets and farmers have been roiled by Trump's trade conflict with China.

Depending on the day in recent weeks, U.S. stock indexes have sustained huge losses with investor uncertainty about the trade negotiations, but they often rebounded over succeeding days. The U.S. government has sent billions of dollars in aid to American farmers to cover their losses when China stopped buying their crops.

Now, with a new 10% levy Trump says he plans to impose on Sept. 1 on about $100 billion more of Chinese imports, banking giant JPMorgan Chase says American consumers will be forced to pay about $1,000 more annually on the Chinese-made products they buy, an amount big enough to erase any benefit some middle-class workers gained from income tax cuts Trump won congressional approval for earlier in his presidency.

Trump delayed the same 10% levy on another $200 billion worth of Chinese imports - consumer electronic products, clothing and footwear - until Dec. 15 to avoid impacting the holiday shopping season in the U.S.

Trump defended his handling of the trade dispute with China, saying it has led to China's "worst year [economically] in 27 years." But Trump said, "I'm not ready to make a deal" with China.

Trump said that despite warning signals in the U.S. economy and predictions from independent economists outside the government of a shrinking economy in the coming year, the U.S. is "very far from a recession."

Interest rates

On Wednesday, he continued his attack on Federal Reserve chairman Jerome Powell for not cutting the central bank's benchmark interest rate fast enough to boost the U.S. economy.

"Doing great with China and other Trade Deals," Trump said on Twitter. "The only problem we have is Jay Powell and the Fed."

As he answered reporters' questions Tuesday, Trump said the Fed should, over time, trim its benchmark interest rate by a full percentage point, beyond the quarter percentage point it cut last month, down to 2.25%.

In another tweet, Trump accused the mainstream U.S. news media of "doing everything possible" to "create a U.S. recession even though the numbers & facts are working totally in the opposite direction."

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