US President Donald Trump.
US President Donald Trump.

US suggests fresh round of talks with China on tariffs

The offer comes amid Trump's threat of 'very tough stand' against Beijing over trade

Geneva: The US seems to be acting with bravado by calling on China to enter into another round of negotiations in their festering trade war before imposing tariffs on imports of $200 billion Chinese goods, analysts said.

On Wednesday, the Trump administration signalled that it wants to hold another round of negotiations with China before imposing proposed tariffs Chinese goods under the 301 provisions. President Donald Trump threatened that he would take a “very tough stand" against China.

The US suggestion to hold another round of talks at the highest level “follows a steady rise in political pressures on President Trump to ease up on trade fights—which have pinched consumers and prompted painful retaliation against US exports—ahead of November elections in which his Republican Party risks losing congressional control," The Wall Street Journal reported on 12 September.

“Chinese officials said they’ve grown wary of the Trump administration’s unpredictable decision-making process and may be hesitant to accept without a clear sign that US negotiators have authority to speak for the President," it reported.

Beijing has signalled its intention to impose retaliatory tariffs on American goods of more than $7 billion because of Washington’s failure to implement the World Trade Organization (WTO) dispute settlement recommendations. China sought authorization from the WTO on Monday to impose trade retaliatory tariffs on American goods of more than $7 billion saying the US has failed to comply with the dispute settlement body’s recommendations in a dispute involving controversial anti-dumping methods adopted by the US against Chinese goods.

The US was required to implement the trade body’s recommendations by 22 August. The US-China dispute involves US anti-dumping duties on various Chinese machinery, electronics, metals, and minerals that goes back to 2013.

The WTO’s highest appeals body had pronounced that the methodologies adopted by the US, particularly the controversial zeroing methodology, violated global trade rules.

Zeroing results in increasing the overall dumping margins and has been condemned by the WTO’s Appellate Body in several trade disputes.

Meanwhile, the US is busy shoring up its alliance with its traditional trade allies such as Canada, the European Union, and other Western nations for launching a combined assault on China. Trump had already indicated his intention to subject Chinese goods of more than $500 billion to retaliatory tariffs.

Numerous US organizations representing thousands of companies in industries including retailing, toy manufacturing, farming and technology, said they “are cooperating on a lobbying campaign called Tariffs Hurt the Heartland to oppose tariffs (on Chinese_ imports."

But Trump seems to be in no mood to relent. He indicated on Tuesday that Canada wants to strike a deal for revamping the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). “They want to make a deal very much. Me? If we make it, that’s good. And if we don’t make it, that’s okay too."

Canada’s foreign minister Chrystia Freeland confirmed that the discussions with US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer were “very productive" but “nothing is done until everything is done," according to the Washington Trade Daily of 12 September.

On a separate track, the European Union and the US are closing ranks against China. After months of tit-for-tat threats, the two trans-Atlantic trade elephants on Monday signalled their intention to conclude a partial agreement in the area of technical barriers to trade. “An early harvest in the area of technical barriers to trade" could be concluded between the European Union and the US by November, the US Trade Representative Ambassador Lighthizer announced on Monday.

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