By Chu Daye and Yin Han Source:Global Times
The US has invited China to a new round of trade talks, China’s Ministry of Commerce (MOFCOM) confirmed on Thursday, and Chinese experts said that this move might indicate US public pressure has changed the government’s attitude toward trade frictions.
The parties are discussing details of the possible meeting, Gao Feng, a MOFCOM spokesperson, told a routine press briefing on Thursday.
“China has received an invitation from the US side for a new round of trade talks, and China welcomes such talks,” Gao said.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang also said at Thursday’s routine press conference that China “welcomes” the invitation and has always held that an escalation of the trade conflict is not in anyone’s interest.
The Trump administration was reported on Wednesday to have invited Chinese officials to new trade talks, Reuters reported on Thursday.
The report said that the US side was expecting a “Cabinet-level meeting” which is expected to “ease market worries over the escalating tariff war,” and the meeting would happen in the next few weeks.
Zhang Ning, a research fellow at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times on Thursday that the ranks of the officials are not that important.
“Whether this round of talks can be carried out in a practical atmosphere is more relevant to the outcome,” Zhang said, noting that this round of talks could last several months.
“The fact that the US did not immediately impose tariffs on Chinese goods worth $200 billion is a sign that such tariffs may never see daylight, because it is such a disruption to the global value chain built up over the years,” Zhang noted.
US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, as head of the US delegation, made the invitation, Trump’s economic chief Larry Kudlow was quoted by Reuters as saying.
Officials from both countries held a two-day meeting in Washington DC on August 22 and 23. Chinese Vice Minister of Commerce and Deputy China International Trade Representative Wang Shouwen attended the meeting.
It is worth noting that the US attitude toward the trade frictions “has subtly changed since the last meeting,” Bai Ming, a research fellow at the Chinese Academy of International Trade and Economic Cooperation, told the Global Times.
“It now faces huge pressure from its public and domestic companies and is not as confident as it used to be,” Bai said on Thursday.
The US was reportedly poised to impose tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese goods in the first week of September, which 95 percent of US enterprise representatives reportedly opposed in a public hearing which ended on August 27.
China’s delegation to the World Trade Organization (WTO) on Sunday requested permission to impose sanctions on the US for failing to correct its illegal actions.
A special meeting of the WTO’s Dispute Settlement Body (DSB) will be held on September 21, and the Chinese delegation would seek authorization to impose a yearly retaliation of $7.043 billion on the US, as the latter failed to comply with the body’s recommendations on its anti-dumping proceedings, according to the WTO website.
The DSB said in 2016 that the US had acted inconsistently with WTO articles in calculating dumping duties on Chinese exports in multiple industries, including machinery and electronics, and the US was asked to implement WTO’s recommendations by August 22, the Xinhua News Agency reported on Wednesday.
This is the first time since China’s accession to the WTO that China has sought authorization for trade retaliation, the report said.
Bai told the Global Times that the action “reflects the contract spirit which the US should implement.”
China in 2015 abolished its strict export quota on rare-earth elements following a WTO ruling in 2014 that such restrictions were inconsistent with its trade rules. “The WTO should be fair in dispute settlements regardless of pressure from any party,” Bai noted.