On Monday, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang had what may be considered good news regarding the increasing tension around foreign trade between the U.S. and China.
As reported by NBC News, besides reiterating China’s pledge to “ease access” for American-run businesses, Li admitted that it would be in the best interest of both countries to maintain negotiations in order to avert a trade war.
The statement came during a conference which included numerous global chief executives.
Li added that his government planned to treat both foreign and domestic firms with equal value, strengthen intellectual property rights and refrain from forcing firms outside their country to transfer technology.
The promises previously given by Li have repeatedly failed to placate Washington lawmakers, and tensions have only been heightened by the current administration’s trade policies.
Last week, White House officials wrote a letter to China asking to buy more American-made semiconductors, cut tariffs on U.S. vehicles and give American firms greater access to the financial sector in China.
The statement from China’s Premier came amid fears over a trade war between the world’s two largest economies, as investors and experts within financial markets have warned of dire consequences if the two superpowers can’t settle on an agreement.
In a recent letter to “economic tsar” Vice Premier Liu He, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin listed several steps they’d like to see China take to make the agreement a reality.
Mnuchin has even been considering a brief visit with Beijing officials to get negotiations rolling.
“I anticipate that for political reason it would be logical for China to respond, because countries do,” said Blackstone Group Chief Executive Stephen Schwarzman, who had attended the same conference as Li. “That’s why I view this more as a skirmish, and I think the interests of both countries are served by resolving some of these matters.”
“With regard to trade imbalances, China and the United States should adopt a pragmatic and rational attitude, promote balancing through expansion of trade, and stick to negotiations to resolve differences and friction,” Li said at the conference in Beijing.
Chinese officials are working diligently to finalize rules that would allow financial groups from foreign countries to claim majority stakes in Chinese security firms.
Though officials from both countries have been negotiating behind the scenes, China has publicly given a steady stream of warning to the U.S. that it is ready for a trade war, should it persist in being a “bully.”
Earlier this month, President Donald Trump seemed to increase trade-war fears as he imposed a series of tariffs on steel and aluminum, as well as proposing plans to set tariffs that could affect nearly $60 billion of Chinese goods. On Friday, China responded to the proposal by declaring its own tariffs on nearly $3 billion worth of U.S.-produced goods.
A 15 percent tariff would also be applied to goods such as dried and fresh fruit, while a 25 percent tariff is reported to be placed on imports such as pork.
Chinese officials had stated that it would be ready to enter a trade war if necessary, though it preferred to hash out negotiations to avoid such an event.
“China does not want a trade war with anyone,” a Chinese Embassy official in Washington said Thursday. “But China is not afraid of and will not recoil from a trade war.”
“We urge the U.S. to cease and desist, make cautious decisions,” the statement said. “And avoid placing China-U.S. trade relations in danger with the purpose of hurting others that eventually end up hurting itself.”
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