US-China trade war truce thrown into doubt

The United States has blamed an “erosion of commitments” by China for a threatened escalation in their trade war.

A deal to end the US-inspired conflict had thought to be close but for an announcement on Sunday by President Donald Trump that tariffs on $200bn (£152bn) of Chinese goods were to go up from 10% to 25% from Friday.

His tweet to confirm the move accused Beijing of attempting to renegotiate elements of an agreement to end the 10-month stand-off.

He later tweeted: “The United States has been losing, for many years, 600 to 800 Billion Dollars a year on Trade. With China we lose 500 Billion Dollars. Sorry, we’re not going to be doing that anymore!”

The tariff hike announcement hit financial markets on Monday as investors got to grips with the realisation – though officials confirmed further top level talks would be taking place in Washington this week ahead of Friday’s deadline for new tariffs.

US trade representative Robert Lighthizer accused Beijing of backtracking on the terms of the agreement.

“Over the course of the last week or so we have seen… an erosion in commitments by China.

More from China

“That in our view is unacceptable,” he told reporters.

“We’re not breaking off talks at this point. But for now… come Friday there will be tariffs in place.”

U.S. President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping meet after the G20 in Buenos Aires 1/12/2018
Image: President Trump and China’s Xi Jinping meet after the G20 in Buenos Aires in December

Chinese vice premier Liu is expected to be in Washington for the latest talks, due to resume on Thursday.

US treasury secretary Steven Mnuchin admitted they had hoped to sign a deal this week.

He said: “They were trying to go back on language that had been previously negotiated, very clear language, that had the potential of changing the deal dramatically.

“The entire economic team are completely unified and recommended to the president to move forward with tariffs if we are not able to conclude a deal by the end of the week.”

China’s foreign ministry responded: “We are also in the process of understanding the relevant situation.

“What I can tell you is that China’s team is preparing to go to the United States for the discussions.”

The trade war to date has cost both countries billions of dollars and proved a drag on global economic growth.

It was started as President Trump sought to cut his country’s trade deficit with China, which stood at a record $419.2bn (£319bn) in 2018 as the US imported almost $540bn (£412bn) in goods from China and exported $120.3bn (£92bn) in return.

China has already made a series of concessions including over the operation of US and other companies in China through the creation of a new law to protect their rights.

The US wants action, rather than words, to guarantee intellectual property and an end to forced technology transfers from US companies.

Source: SKY NEWS

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