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All trade progress is off if US imposes tariffs, China says

• Jun 4, 2018 at 11:00 AM

By Bloomberg News (TNS)

BEIJING –– All progress made so far in talks between with the U.S. over trade will be for nothing if President Donald Trump carries out his threat to impose tariffs, China said Sunday.

“If the U.S. rolls out trade measures including tariffs, all the agreements reached in the negotiations won’t take effect,” the state-run Xinhua News Agency reported Sunday, citing a statement from the Chinese negotiators who met with a U.S. delegation led by Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross in Beijing over t the weekend.

The two sides had good talks about agriculture, energy and other sectors, with some “positive, concrete” progress, Xinhua said. China is willing to expand imports from the U.S. and other nations, it said, though the premise for any agreement is that the two sides won’t start a trade war.

The Xinhua report came after Ross met Sunday with Chinese Vice Premier Liu He for talks that Ross called “friendly and frank, and covered some useful topics about specific export items.”

The U.S. delegation included energy and agriculture experts, reflecting the U.S. desire to increase exports of natural gas and food to reduce the $375 billion annual deficit in commodities trade with China. While the team may be inching toward technical agreement in that direction, the talks are could be overshadowed by the unpredictability of U.S. policy after recent reversals in which tariffs were placed on metals imports by allies.

On the Chinese side, officials including Commerce Minister Zhong Shan, Central Bank Governor Yi Gang, Vice Agricultural Minister Han Jun, and Li Fanrong, vice minister of national energy administration, accompanied Liu in the talks, according to a media pool report.

During his visit, Ross looked to build on a vague joint statement released May 19 after negotiations in Washington. China pledged then to take steps to “substantially” reduce the U.S. trade deficit, including by buying more American farm goods and energy, though it didn’t commit to a dollar amount.

The Trump administration’s shifting stance on China may complicate Ross’s ability to extract concessions from Beijing. Trump announced that the U.S. will go ahead with a plan to impose tariffs on $50 billion worth of Chinese imports just 10 days after the two reached the truce agreement in Washington. China said it would retaliate U.S. tariff threat materialize.

In addition to tariffs, Ross is under pressure from U.S. lawmakers to remain tough on Chinese telecom-equipment maker ZTE Corp. China pressed the U.S. to give ZTE a break after the Commerce Department cut off the company from U.S. suppliers to punish it for allegedly lying to American officials in a sanctions case.

Last month, Trump said he would allow ZTE to stay in business once it pays a $1.3 billion fine, shakes up its management and provides “high-level security guarantees.” Lawmakers from both parties have questioned Trump’s leniency toward ZTE, arguing that the company represents a security risk.

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©2018 Bloomberg News

Visit Bloomberg News at www.bloomberg.com

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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Trudeau calls Trump’s tariffs against Canada ‘insulting and unacceptable’

By Laura King - Tribune Washington Bureau (TNS)

WASHINGTON — In a sharp rebuke from one of America’s closest allies, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau criticized the White House rationale for imposing punitive trade tariffs on Canada as “insulting and unacceptable,” the latest leader to warn of a looming trade war with the U.S.

The complaint, which aired Sunday on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” was a dramatic departure from the conciliatory approach Trudeau has shown to President Donald Trump over the last year, and signaled the growing pushback from U.S. allies to the protectionist trade policies.

The White House announced last week that Canada, Mexico and the European Union nations would face a stiff 25 percent tariff on imported steel and a 10 percent tariff on imported aluminum. Initially announced in March, the levies took effect Friday.

In imposing them, Trump invoked a little-used provision in the law that permits the use of tariffs to counter a national security threat.

Trudeau denied on “Meet the Press” that Canada or its steel and aluminum industries posed any such menace. Canada is one of America’s largest trading partners and one of its closest military and political allies.

“The idea that we are somehow a national security threat to the United States is, quite frankly, insulting and unacceptable,” Trudeau said.

He said Canada would impose retaliatory tariffs against American-made steel and aluminum, as well as on other goods. Officials have said cheese, whiskey, orange juice and dozens of other items will be targeted, many from states that Trump won in 2016 in an effort to pressure him to reverse course.

“We’re putting the same kinds of tariffs exactly on steel and aluminum coming from the United States into Canada to be directly reciprocal,” said Trudeau. “But we’re also putting a number of tariffs on consumer goods, finished products for which Canadians have easy alternatives.”

The confrontation, he warned, will hurt consumers and workers on both sides of the border.

“One of the truths about tariffs is they drive up costs for consumers,” Trudeau said. “And on top of that, these tariffs are going to be hurting American workers and Canadian workers.”

Other allies have denounced the tariffs in similarly harsh terms. French President Emmanuel Macron, who has publicly embraced Trump several times in public, told reporters Thursday that Trump’s decision to impose tariffs “is not only unlawful but it is a mistake in many respects.”

“Economic nationalism leads to war,” he warned.

Mexico Foreign Minister Luis Vinegary labeled the tariffs “unjust and unilateral” but said Mexico will continue to negotiate with Washington to revamp the North American Free Trade Agreement.

Trump has made no secret of his overriding concern about U.S. trade imbalances, viewing them as a sign of American weakness around the globe. The tariffs are unusual because they target some of America’s closest allies.

Trudeau suggested Trump was disregarding shared history and values with Canada.

“The idea that our soldiers who had fought and died together on the beaches of World War II, on the mountains of Afghanistan and have stood shoulder to shoulder in some of the most difficult places in the world, that are always there for each other, this is insulting to that,” he said.

Trudeau, who took office in 2015, is expected to press his case directly with Trump next weekend when Canada hosts the annual Group of Seven summit, which brings together leaders of the world’s largest economies, in Quebec.

The White House on Sunday pushed back against the notion that Trump’s trade moves were unfair or irreversible.

“Good-faith negotiations are welcome, and we hope to continue there,” Larry Kudlow, the president’s top economic adviser, said on “Fox News Sunday.” He said Trudeau was “overreacting” to the new tariffs.

“I don’t think our tariffs are anything to do with our friendship and longstanding alliance with Canada,” Kudlow said. “So I don’t think things are broken down,” he added.

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy of California also defended the tariffs, saying Trump was “standing up” to protect U.S. interests. He also denied the confrontation could be considered a trade war at this juncture.

“We are in the middle of a trade discussion — nobody wants to be in a trade war,” McCarthy said on CNN’s “State of the Union.”

“Nobody wins a trade war,” he said.

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©2018 Los Angeles Times

Visit Los Angeles Times at www.latimes.com

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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