U.S. to discuss trade disputes with China economic official next week
(Adds Chinese Foreign Ministry comment)
By Steve Holland and Jeff Mason
WASHINGTON, Feb 23 (Reuters) - Senior U.S. officials will
discuss trade disputes next week with a top Chinese economic
official when he visits Washington, a senior U.S. official said
on Friday as President Donald Trump considers new tariffs on
The talks will be led by Trump's trade envoy, Robert
Lighthizer, who will meet with senior Chinese economic adviser
Liu He, the official said.
U.S. officials say they do not expect a major breakthrough
in the discussions.
Trump has long sought a way to a more balanced trade
relationship with China and threatened to impose a big "fine"
against China to protect American intellectual property. The
U.S. official said Trump had been discussing imposing a global
tariff on imports of steel from China and other countries.
A source close to the White House said he had expressed
interest in imposing a tariff on steel imports of at least 24
percent, but a White House spokesman said no final decision had
The prospect of a global tariff sent steel shares rising
after hours with United States Steel Corp and AK Steel
Holding Corp up more than 3 percent.
The Commerce Department on Feb. 16 recommended that Trump
impose stiff curbs on steel imports from China and other
countries and offered the president several options, ranging
from global and country-specific tariffs to broad import quotas.
A blanket tariff on steel would cover every steel and
aluminum product entering the American market from China, the
world's largest steel producer.
"No final decisions have been made. As with every decision
he makes, the security of the American people and the American
economy will be the president's primary concerns while he
considers his potential options," White House spokesman Raj Shah
"President Trump is committed to achieving fair and
reciprocal trade relationships that protect the American worker
and grow our economy," he said.
Liu, a Harvard-trained economist and trusted confidant of
Chinese President Xi Jinping, has emerged as the front-runner to
be the next governor of China's central bank, according to
sources with knowledge of the situation. Liu is the top adviser
to Xi on economic policy and is also expected to become vice
premier overseeing the Chinese economy.
China has not officially confirmed the trip.
Speaking at a daily news briefing in Beijing on Friday,
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang would only say
when asked if Liu was going that the two countries have frequent
exchanges of officials at various levels.
"If there is important news, China will issue it in a timely
manner," Geng added.
China has expressed concerns over excessive protectionism in
the U.S. steel sector and urged restraint. It has also said it
will oppose any "unfair and unreasonable" trade measures by
countries such as the United States.
American steel companies have pressed the administration to
impose trade measures to curb excess steel capacity and surging
imports they say are undermining the U.S. industry.
Exports from China to the United States reached 1.18 million
tonnes last year. China produces a total of 800 million tonnes
of steel each year, equal to about half of global output.
In a meeting with a bipartisan group of U.S. senators and
representatives at the White House earlier this month, Trump
signaled he would take at least some action to restrict imports
of both steel and aluminum.
(Reporting by Steve Holland and Jeff Mason; Additional
reporting by Ben Blanchard in BEIJING; Writing by Lesley
Wroughton; Editing by Lisa Shumaker, G Crosse and Jacqueline
First Published: 2018-02-24 00:44:24
Updated 2018-02-24 06:15:17
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