By Zhang Hongpei Source:Global Times
Mnuchin’s hint of China trip spurs hope for direct talks: experts
The possible visit to China by US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin is a positive move that could help ease the two countries’ trade dispute, said experts, who added that face-to-face negotiations would be a true sign of progress.
“China has received information that the US hopes to come to Beijing to discuss trade and economic issues, which China welcomes,” China’s Ministry of Commerce (MOFCOM) said in a statement posted on its official WeChat account on Sunday.
The comment comes after US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said on Saturday at a news conference during the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank spring meetings held in Washington, DC that he was considering a trip to China to negotiate the trade issues.
“I am not going to make any comment on timing, nor do I have anything confirmed, but a trip is under consideration,” Mnuchin was quoted as saying, according to a Reuters report on Sunday.
The secretary declined to say if there is a possible trade deal pending with China. “If we have a deal, you’ll know what it looks like when we have it,” Reuters quoted Mnuchin as saying.
Mnuchin is the right person for the US to send to China at this time, Tu Xinquan, a professor at the University of International Business and Economics, told the Global Times on Sunday.
Tu said Mnuchin’s business and academic background, and the trust he has from US President Donald Trump could help him break the ice with China.
More fuel or peace talk?
“MOFCOM’s gesture is in line with our consistent stance amid the trade tensions. If they want negotiations, our door is always open. If they want a trade war, we’ll fight to the end,” said Bai Ming, deputy director of the International Market Research Institute under MOFCOM.
Bai told the Global Times on Sunday that the US isn’t likely to realize its expected results if it keeps adding fuel to the fire and increasing trade tensions.
The two countries will probably get back on win-win track if the US releases positive and sincere signs, Bai said.
“We should also be cautious, as it is more important to wait and see the possible results of any negotiations,” Bai added.
On April 6, Trump instructed the US Trade Representative’s office to slap punitive tariffs on an additional $100 billion worth of Chinese imports, further exacerbating trade tensions between the world’s two largest economies, saying the move was “in light of China’s unfair retaliation.”
Two days earlier, China had imposed import tariffs of 25 percent on 106 items made in the US, including soybeans, automobiles, chemical products and airplanes, a countermeasure to US tariffs on some $50 billion worth of imports from China.
The tit-for-tat tariffs, which have not yet been implemented, caused grave concern among governments and economists around the world.
Christine Lagarde, managing director of the IMF, on Saturday called on the US and China to resolve trade tensions through rules-based multilateral institutions, the Xinhua News Agency reported.
Addressing a speech to the China Agricultural Outlook Conference held in Beijing on Friday, WTO Deputy Director-General Alan Wolff said WTO members, especially major trade countries, should ramp up efforts to advance stalled trade talks aimed at reducing trade tensions and work together to achieve positive results in line with the interests of all its members.