Trade war on hold as United States and China halt imposing tariffs

Donald Trump has insisted that trade barriers between the US and China would come down

The joint statement, coming at a time of high tensions over trade, followed high-level talks in Washington between delegations led by US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and China's State Council Vice Premier Liu He.

China is North Korea's biggest trade partner, and Trump has called on it repeatedly to press Pyongyang to rein in its nuclear and missile programs.

The United States will also send a team to China to work out the details of increased agricultural and energy exports, the countries said, without specifying timing. "That's why I support the president's position that we've got to do a better job of negotiating a level playing field with China", said Sen.

The US has a $335b annual trade deficit with Beijing.

A deal that is primarily focused on the bilateral trade balance, however, would likely fail to address more fundamental structural issues such as China's weak protection of intellectual property rights or forced technology transfer.

Mnuchin said Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, who has been part of the US negotiating team, would soon be traveling to China to follow up on last week's discussions. Their reaction could complicate US efforts to win trade concessions from China to narrow a $335 billion annual trade gap.

Tariffs Trump had proposed for US$50 billion (NZ$72 billion) in Chinese goods are ready to be enacted at his command, after a public comment period expired on Tuesday.

It also argued that China has always resisted any "unreasonable demands" by the United States, never compromising or accepting restrictive conditions. American officials stepped back from proposals to hit Chinese products worth $150 billion...

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Both sides, however, have said there are no guarantees trade tensions are over.

The statement said they did agree on the need for "effective measures" to reduce America's trade deficit, and to strengthen cooperation on protecting intellectual property. China will advance relevant amendments to its laws and regulations in this area, including the patent law, the joint statement said. "Both sides agreed to encourage two-way investment and to strive to create a fair, level playing field for competition". He views the massive USA trade deficit with China as evidence that Beijing is engaged in abusive trading practices and has outmaneuvered previous US administrations. But so far, he has had more success levying tariffs than reaching new trade deals.

He said dialogue was the way to resolve such issues and "treat them calmly" in the future.

The ruling Communist Party's People's Daily said that in the energy and agriculture sectors the two countries had obvious synergies. China says the trade deficit is around Dollars 200 billion. The Chinese government has not confirmed that number and Saturday's statement lacked any specific dollar amounts or indications that Beijing had bowed to Trump's demands for far-reaching changes in its industrial policies, which the president says disadvantages USA companies.

Earlier, posts on Chinese state social media disputed a report that China planned to slash its trade surplus by the extent demanded by Washington through increased imports of USA products. "We must keep in mind China's long-term strategic approach and their long-term goal of becoming the world's superpower, militarily and economically".

However, Kosyrev highlighted that the USA economy still faces serious challenges: "Deficiencies in trade, not to mention those in the budget, have increased the United States national debt to $21 trillion [in March 2018], and the counter continues to spin". Though this method to reduce the U.S. trade deficit with Mexico would only be skin-deep, it might be enough to satisfy Trump in a face-saving deal.

A report by China's state-run Xinhua news agency described the statement from the two governments as "vowing not to launch a trade war against each other". DiMicco was an adviser to Trump's campaign and presidential transition who now sits on an advisory committee for US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer.

News reports have outlined a proposed trade deal with China being negotiated by the White House, which would lift a seven-year ban that prevents US chipmakers and other companies from selling components to ZTE.

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