By Kevin Yao
BEIJING (Reuters) – Trade talks between the United States and China should be equal and mutually beneficial, Chinese Vice Commerce Minister Wang Shouwen said on Friday, adding that he hoped the two countries can find ways to manage their differences through dialogue.
U.S. President Donald Trump and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping are expected to hold talks during the G20 summit in Buenos Aires next week as trade ties between the world’s two largest economies become increasingly fraught.
“We hope that, on the basis of equal consultations, mutual benefits and trust, we could make common efforts to manage differences and find ways to resolve problems,” Wang told a news conference in Beijing, the capital.
Officials of both countries were in close contact, instructed by their leaders, he added.
Washington wants Beijing to improve market access and intellectual property protections for U.S. firms, cut industrial subsidies and slash a $375-billion trade gap. Trump has imposed tariffs on $250 billion of Chinese imports to force concessions.
The U.S. tariff rate on $200 billion in Chinese goods is set to increase to 25 percent from 10 percent on Jan. 1. Trump has threatened to impose tariffs on all remaining Chinese imports – about $267 billion more in goods – if Beijing fails to address U.S. demands.
Trump said on Thursday he hoped he could make a deal with China when he meets Xi.
“I can say this, China wants to make a deal very badly – because of the tariffs,” Trump told reporters in the town of Palm Beach in Florida.
“China wants to make a deal; if we can make a deal, we will,” he said.
The high-stakes meeting comes as the Trump administration shows little sign of backing down in its demands and rhetoric.
Washington said on Tuesday China had failed to alter its “unfair” practices at the heart of the dispute, in an update of the U.S. Trade Representative’s “Section 301” investigation into its intellectual property and technology transfer policies.
China hopes the G20 meeting could uphold its stance against protectionism, at a time of slowing growth in global trade and declining foreign direct investment.
On Tuesday, a top Chinese diplomat said an APEC summit’s failure to agree on a communique resulted from certain countries “excusing” protectionism, a veiled criticism of Washington’s tariffs.
“Currently, global trade faces a complex situation, unilateralism and protectionism are rising fiercely, adding to big uncertainties for global economic development,” Wang said.
“We hope the summit could further strengthen consensus of all sides on supporting multilateralism.”
China supports reform of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) to boost its effectiveness and authority, he added.
China rejected the fresh U.S. accusations of perpetuating “unfair” trade practices and urged Washington to stop provocations.
China’s commerce ministry said it was deeply concerned by the report the U.S. administration issued this week.
Citing security concerns, the U.S. government on Monday also proposed stepping up scrutiny over technology exports in 14 key areas, including artificial intelligence and microprocessors, a move many analysts view as directly targeting China.
A 30-day public consultation period on plans to wrap those sectors in its broader export control regime ends on Dec. 19, the U.S. government’s Federal Register shows.
Xi will visit Argentina, Panama, Portugal and Spain from Nov. 27 to Dec 5.
(Reporting by Kevin Yao; Writing by Ryan Woo; Editing by Darren Schuettler and Clarence Fernandez)