Washington (AFP) – China has offered to buy $70 billion in US goods if Washington will drop plans to impose tariffs in return, an official in President Donald Trump’s administration told AFP on Wednesday, confirming an earlier report.
Top Chinese economic advisor Liu He made the offer during weekend trade talks in Beijing with a US delegation led by Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, The Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday.
The new purchases would include soybeans, natural gas, crude oil and coal.
The Commerce Department on Wednesday told AFP no definitive agreement had been reached and no further information was available.
US goods exports to China last year were $130.4 billion, according to the Department. A $70 billion package of purchases would amount to a 53.8 percent increase.
For goods alone, the US trade deficit with China hit a record $375 billion last year, and the White House has demanded that China cut the imbalance by $200 billion.
“If the United States introduces trade sanctions including tariffs, all the economic and trade achievements negotiated by the two parties will be void,” China’s official news agency Xinhua said Sunday.
According to The Journal, Liu personally explained to Ross the offer would be void in the event Washington imposed additional tariffs.
Trump had announced last week that the US was pressing ahead with plans to impose 25 percent tariffs on $50 billion in Chinese imports tied to tech industries which Washington says have benefitted from the alleged theft of US know-how and intellectual property.
Washington’s trade battles with China, Europe, Mexico and others are an effort to make those countries buy more US goods and force down the US trade deficit, which Trump sees as a job killer and threat to the American industrial base.