Brace Yourselves: The US-China Trade War Is About to Begin

Commerce Secretary To Press China To Buy As Allies Seethe Over Tariffs

China warned the United States that any deals reached during ongoing trade talks would be void if Washington went ahead with imposing tariffs on Chinese goods, as the latest round of negotiations ended on Sunday in Beijing.

China on Sunday threatened retaliation against the USA during a round of trade talks, saying that economic and trade deals negotiated by the two countries would become "void" should Washington impose new sanctions. Beijing said "positive and concrete progress" was made on those issues with details left for "both sides to finalise".

A statement released by the Chinese side at the talks with the United States in Beijing said nothing specific about the outcome, and referred back to an agreement reached in Washington last month to increase the purchase of usa goods and services.

But this time no joint statement was issued.

Despite announcing a truce earlier this month, the United States is working to finalize planned sanctions on Beijing - including restrictions on Chinese investment, export controls and 25 percent tariffs on $50 billion in Chinese tech goods. All Chinese officials have stated that none of the previously discussed improved economic and trade outcomes would take effect if the United States continues to introduce trade measures like increased tariffs against them. "Despite the potential negative repercussions for both economies, the risk of a full-blown China-U.S. trade war, with tariffs and other trade sanctions being imposed by both sides, has risen significantly".

Between January and March, the "deficit" stood at US$58 billion, while a year ago it was a record $375.2 billion. "Our established rhythm will not change", Xinhua said.

Chinese envoys had promised after the last high-level meeting in Washington in mid-May to buy more American farm goods and energy products.

More tellingly, the statement warned that promises made at previous talks would not be upheld if the Trump administration carried through on its threat of tariffs.

Top officials from Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and British asked U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin to convey their "unanimous concern and disappointment" to the trade actions.

French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire even referred to the bloc as G6+1 as an indication of the deepening rift.

On Friday, the USA imposed 25 per cent tariffs on steel imports and 10 per cent tariffs on aluminium from its allies, including European nations and Canada, triggering protests from G7 finance ministers.

Mr Ross's China visit comes days after Washington threatened to impose extra tariffs on $50bn of Chinese goods.

The U.S. leader has also threatened to impose tariffs on an additional $100 billion in Chinese goods if Beijing retaliates.

Trump weighed in on Twitter early Monday by saying, "China already charges a tax of 16% on soybeans".

"The "just say no" crowd in China is getting emboldened by the American allies that are strongly pushing back as the United States ratchets up the pressure", he said.

The formation of the World Trade Organization and the advent of trade deals like the North American Free Trade Agreement among the U.S., Mexico and Canada reduced tariffs or eliminated them altogether.

U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Saturday that the push to have China purchase more American goods was partially meant to shrink a $375 billion U.S. trade deficit with the country.

Those hard issues include what the USA complains is rampant theft of intellectual property, as well as Beijing's support for cutting-edge technologies under its Made in China 2025 policy.

China's exports have mushroomed since joining the World Trade Organisation in 2001, making it the world's second-largest economy.

In 2017, Trump vetoed the sale of a USA semiconductor manufacturer to a Chinese investor on national security grounds after Washington concluded the financing came from China's government.

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