China: Tariffs by U.S. would wipe out trade progress

China said Sunday that trade progress with the United States in trade would be wiped out if tariffs are imposed.

U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross (L) shakes hands with Chinese Vice Premier Liu He as they pose for photographers after their meeting Sunday at the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse in Beijing, China. Photo by Andy Wong/pool/EPA
U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross (L) shakes hands with Chinese Vice Premier Liu He as they pose for photographers after their meeting Sunday at the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse in Beijing, China. Photo by Andy Wong/pool/EPA

China said commitments to buy more American goods would not happen if President Donald Trump carried through on plans revised last week for $50 billion in tariffs on Chinese products.

“The outcome of the talks should be based on the prerequisite that the two parties meet each other halfway and will not engage in a trade war,” according to the statement carried by Xinhua, China’s official news agency. “All economic and trade outcomes of the talks will not take effect if the U.S. imposes any trade sanctions including raising tariffs.”

China made the statement after talks with a U.S. delegation led by Commerce Secretary in Beijing on Saturday and Sunday.

On May 19, China had pledged to import more from America was an to reduce its $375 billion trade surplus in goods with the United States. Trump has criticized the massive trade gap between the two countries.

The U.S. delegation didn’t comment after the talks but Ross earler said that the “meetings so far have been friendly and frank, and covered some useful topics about specific export items.”

He spoke to reporters with Chinese Vice Premier Liu He, the top economic adviser to President Xi Jinping.

China also said it won’t be pushed into making major changes to its economic policies.

“China is willing to increase imports from other countries, including the United States, to satisfy the Chinese people’s increasing consumption needs and the country’s high-quality economic growth,” the statement said. He added that “economic reform and opening up, as well as increasing domestic consumption, are China’s national strategies — and our established pace of reform won’t change.”

Gai Xinzhe, an analyst at Bank of China’s finance institute in Beijing, told Bloomberg that “China is concerned over the U.S.’s unpredictability, especially after Trump turned an about-face on tariffs. Trump needs to give out more goodwill in exchange for really productive negotiations. Bluff, threat, and willful moves might work in business bargaining, but they could backfire in talks among nations.”

On Saturday, Trump weighed in on the trade situation with other countries.

“When you’re almost 800 Billion Dollars a year down on Trade, you can’t lose a Trade War!,” Trump posted on Twitter. The U.S. has been ripped off by other countries for years on Trade, time to get smart!”

All non-U.S. Group of Seven finance ministers expressed “disappointment” over Trump’s decision to slap tariffs on steel and aluminum on Canada, the European Union and Mexico.

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. Mnuchin represented the United States at the G7 summit in the resort ski town of Whistler, Canada, on Saturday.

“There was an important difference of opinion,” Canadian Finance Minister Bill Morneau told reporters at the closing press conference. “The Americans have decided — in our mind — to take an action that is not at all constructive. It’s actually destructive in our ability to get something done around tariffs on steel and aluminum.”

By Allen Cone