The Latest: US business group concerned over trade dispute

Zhu Guangyao
The Associated Press

BEIJING (AP) — The Latest on U.S.-China trade tensions (all times local):

7:00 p.m.

The chairman of the American Chamber of Commerce in China says Beijing’s potential retaliation in an escalating dispute with Washington is a concern for every U.S. company doing business in China.

William Zarit told The Associated Press in an interview Wednesday that proposed tit-for-tat tariff hikes by both sides would first hit global stock markets.

Zarit said he still hopes Washington and Beijing will not follow through on their threats.

Instead they should work toward a “serious negotiation.”

U.S. business groups mostly agree that something needs to be done about China’s aggressive push in technology. But they worry that China’s measures targeting U.S. exports of aircraft, soybeans and other products could help bring on a tit-for-tat trade war of escalating sanctions between the world’s two biggest economies.

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6:40 p.m.

A senior Chinese commerce official has defended the official technology policy at the center of an escalating trade dispute with the United States.

Wang Shouwen, a deputy commerce minister, told reporters Wednesday that the long-range industrial strategy known as “Made in China 2025” is open to foreign companies, including American firms, and to private companies, not just state-owned enterprises.

The policy calls for creating Chinese global leaders in electric cars, robots and other fields.

Wang said the plan, which lays out specific targets for domestic brands’ share of the market in some sectors, should be seen as a guide rather than mandatory.

Foreign business groups complain that strategy will limit or outright block access to those industries.

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6:00 p.m.

A Chinese foreign ministry spokesman has urged the U.S. to come to the table and discuss an escalating trade dispute.

Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang told reporters in Beijing on Wednesday that China’s door to dialogue with Washington remains open “but the U.S. has missed the opportunity time and time again.”

Geng made the comments after Beijing announced plans to raise tariffs on imports from the U.S.

He said talks between the two countries require “mutual respect and equal treatment, instead of being coerced by one party unilaterally and condescendingly.”

Geng added that neither side should be “threatening the other with senseless and unreasonable demands.”

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5:50 p.m.

European stock markets have fallen sharply after China announced a series of tariffs on U.S. goods, stoking fears that the two countries were on the brink of a full-scale trade war.

Among the region’s major indexes, Germany’s DAX was down 1.2 percent while the FTSE 100 index fell 0.4 percent, in the wake of China’s decision to raise tariffs on $50 billion of U.S. goods including soybeans, aircraft and automobiles. China was responding to Washington’s equivalent duties on Chinese goods.

Joshua Mahony, market analyst at IG, said it’s “no surprise that we are seeing traders flock to safe havens in response, with gold and the yen both sharply higher throughout the morning’s trade.”

Gold, for example, was up 0.8 percent at $1,347.40 an ounce.

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5:30 p.m.

A senior Chinese finance official has warned that attempts by foreign countries to pressure China on trade will fail, striking a firm note as Beijing announced proposed tariff hikes on American goods in response to planned U.S. duties.

Zhu Guangyao, China’s deputy finance minister, said Wednesday that Beijing hopes both sides can work together in a constructive manner, “instead of acting in a willful way.”

He made the comment at a briefing to discuss China’s plans to impose a 25 percent tariff hike on U.S. soybeans, autos, aircraft and other goods valued at $50 billion.

Zhu said that China never gives in to outside pressure and that “pressure from the outside will only urge and encourage the Chinese people to work even harder” and to innovate and develop.

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5:15 p.m.

A senior official with China’s Commerce Ministry says Beijing will keep the door to negotiations with the U.S. open, after announcing a plan to impose tariffs on $50 billion worth of U.S. goods in response to proposed U.S. tariffs.

Wang Shouwen, a vice minister of Commerce, said Wednesday at a briefing with reporters that Beijing doesn’t want a trade war but will fight one if forced to.

Wang said Beijing was willing to resolve these disputes with the U.S. through dialogue on the basis of “mutual respect and mutual benefit.”

Wang said: “If anyone wants to fight, we’ll be there with him, if they want to negotiate, the door is open.”

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4:20 p.m.

China has raised tariffs on $50 billion of U.S. goods including soybeans, aircraft and automobiles in response to Washington’s increased duties on Chinese goods in a technology dispute.

The Commerce Ministry on Wednesday criticized the U.S. move as a violation of global trade rules and said China was acting to protect its “legitimate rights and interests.”

It said a 25 percent tariff would be imposed and the date the charges will take effect would be announced later.

The dispute stems from U.S. complaints that Beijing pressures foreign companies to hand over technology in return for market access.

Companies and investors worry the conflict could dampen worldwide commerce and set back the global economic recovery.

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