US treasury secretary to lead trade talks with China


US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin will lead trade talks with China due to take place on Thursday (May 17) and Friday as the countries try to head off a trade war.

In addition to Navarro, senior American officials who will be participating include National Economic Council Chair Larry Kudlow and trade adviser Everett Eissenstat, the second official said.

The Trump administration trade delegation that traveled to China two weeks ago has been referred to by at least one person briefed on the trip as the "trade avengers".

China also wants the United States to back off its threat to impose tariffs on $50 billion to $150 billion of Chinese goods, ease controls on exports of high-technology goods to China and reduce barriers to Chinese investment.

Liu, who is China's top economic official, told USA lawmakers on Wednesday that he would work hard to address the U.S.

The unresolved feud has contributed the White House's uneven approach to its trade negotiations with China in recent days, as White House officials have given different, at time contradictory descriptions about what the discussions' aims and about what is and what isn't up for debate.

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The talks will start as USTR finishes up public hearings on the first batch of United States tariffs on US$50 billion worth of Chinese goods proposed as punishment for alleged violations of U.S. intellectual rights.

Representative Kevin Brady, the committee's Republican chairman, said he urged Liu to keep working with the administration toward a solution.

In his meeting with key lawmakers of both houses of the U.S. Congress, Liu said the two nations' commitment to a long-standing, healthy and stable bilateral relationship is in line with the fundamental interests of the two peoples and the shared expectations of the worldwide community.

Liu told the group of House representatives on Wednesday that he wanted to address trade imbalances by increasing Chinese demand for American products, Brady said.

Close to 125 witnesses are scheduled to testify at the hearings, which conclude on Thursday, in a sign of the concern in the USA business community over the administration's move.

Among the US lawmakers Liu met with were Orrin Hatch, president pro tempore of the Senate and chairman of the Senate Finance Committee and Kevin Brady, chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee. Liu frequently addressed lawmakers' concerns by saying that China was in the middle of an effort to reform its economy and open it up to more foreign competition.

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Trump on Monday had defended his decision to revisit penalties on ZTE for flouting USA sanctions on trade with Iran, in part by saying it was reflective of the larger trade deal the United States is negotiating with China.

In addition to its request on the trade deficit, the USA asked Beijing to stop subsidies for high-tech sectors such as robotics and aerospace that are targeted for development in the "Made in China 2025" plan and to promise not to retaliate against US farm goods for any tariffs that the United States might impose.

"Nothing has happened with ZTE except as it pertains to the larger trade deal", Trump said in a series of tweets Wednesday.

"China has seen our demands". The U.S. has very little to give, because it has given so much over the years.

Navarro has much more strident views on China's trade history, ones that Trump has often agreed with. For example, during the Beijing trip, Chinese officials pressed Mnuchin and others to relax restrictions on ZTE Corp., a controversial Chinese telecommunications company that has violated USA law.

The ban has caused ZTE to cease operations, and Trump on Sunday tweeted that he had instructed the Commerce Department to take steps that would restore ZTE's ability to operate. Politico wrote earlier this week that Ross had also been largely sidelined in the trade negotiations, according to three people with knowledge of the matter.

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