U.S. trade officials are extending Chinese officials yet another opportunity to negotiate trade before levying additional tariffs on hundreds of billions in Chinese goods, according to a Wall Street Journal report.
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and other senior U.S. officials recently sent a letter to Chinese Vice Premier Liu He and the officials’ Chinese counterparts, offering to hold another bilateral trade meeting, the Wall Street Journal reported. The report cited “people briefed on the matter” and that according to these individuals, the U.S. officials requested a Chinese ministerial-level delegation meet with U.S. officials.
Recent U.S.-China trade meetings have been held in each Beijing and Washington, DC. A proposed meeting between the two delegations could be held in either location, according to the individuals cited.
Lower level Chinese trade officials traveled to Washington, DC, in late August for two days of meetings with their U.S. counterparts. Those meetings yielded a meager result as the White House stated the two sides “exchanged views” on how to achieve trade goals. Those meetings came after a breakdown in negotiations earlier this year between senior U.S. and Chinese trade officials that had continued over several months.
Treasury Secretary Mnuchin led the U.S. delegation of top trade officials to Beijing where they met with their counterparts. The U.S. later imposed tariffs on imports of steel and aluminum to the U.S. on the basis of national security. The tariffs originally hit imports of steel and aluminum from all countries, but some countries negotiated with the U.S. and saw the tariffs on those countries lifted.
The tariffs didn’t stop there. President Donald Trump threatened more tariffs specifically on China if the nation persisted in “unfair” trading practices. He called on China to reform their trade practices and stop stealing U.S. intellectual property. China has made its own threats of retaliation against the U.S., issuing tariffs on U.S. exports to China.
President Trump acknowledged in June the breakdown in trade negotiations with China. He has repeatedly vocalized his discontent with the massive, multi-billion dollar U.S. trade deficit with China.
The U.S. Trade Representative’s office conducted over a week of late-August hearings regarding potential additional tariffs on $200 billion in Chinese goods. This would make up a portion of the up to $400 billion President Trump in July threatened to levy tariffs on and in addition to the $50 billion he previously set in place. “The trade relationship between the United States and China must be much more equitable,” Trump said at the time of the warning.
The U.S. Department of Commerce determined in May that China was using Vietnam to circumvent U.S. anti-steel dumping measures and therefore imposed rates on Vietnamese exports of steel to the U.S. that coincided with those applied to China. Following the determination, President Trump suggested that the U.S. may need to employ a “different structure” when tackling a U.S.-China trade deal.