China is “meeting many” Trump administration demands to cut its trade surplus with the United States, but a definitive deal to resolve deep trade differences could take a while to develop.
“China has come to trade,” , White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow told reporters at the White House as US officials met with a Chinese trade delegation for a second day in Washington.
“They are meeting many of our demands. There is no deal yet to be sure, and it’s probably going to take a while to process, but they’re coming to play.”
Kudlow said the Chinese had offered a package of US goods purchases and other steps to cut China’s annual US trade surplus by some $US200 billion, contradicting a Chinese foreign ministry spokesman who denied that such a reduction had been offered.
He said the Chinese offer included energy and farm commodities purchases, adding “the number is a good number,” adding that China would also need to lower non-tariff barriers and agree to a “verifiable process whereby the technology transfers and the theft of intellectual property stops.”
US President Donald Trump has threatened to impose tariffs on up to $US150 billion of Chinese goods to combat what he says is Beijing’s misappropriation of US technology through joint venture requirements and other policies.
Beijing has threatened equal retaliation, including tariffs on some of its largest US imports, including aircraft, soybeans and autos.
China took a surprise conciliatory step to end an anti-dumping probe that had heaped hefty duties onto US sorghum grain, effectively halting $US1.1 billion in US exports, causing turmoil in grain markets and sparking concerns about rising costs in China.
Achieving a $US200 billion reduction of the US-China trade deficit on a sustainable basis would require a massive change in the composition of commerce between the two countries, prompting scepticism from economists.
The $US200 billion figure is larger than all of the United States’ global annual agricultural and oil exports.
It was unclear whether any agreements that could emerge from the talks later on Friday would include a relaxation of paralysing restrictions on Chinese telecommunications equipment maker ZTE Corp imposed last month by the US Commerce Department.
The sanctions-related move banned US firms from selling semiconductors and other components to ZTE, causing the Shenzhen-based firm to cease operations.
Earlier this week, Trump tweeted that he directed Commerce to put ZTE back in business and said the company’s situation was part of an overall trade deal with China.
But Kudlow distanced the ZTE issue from the current trade talks and said the company’s punishment may or may not be changed.