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Trump Taunts China as Negotiators Prepare for Another Round of Trade Talks

Category: Business,Finance

WASHINGTON — President Trump taunted China on Wednesday morning, saying in a tweet that Chinese negotiators were attempting to drag out trade negotiations until a “very weak” Democrat was back in the White House and insisting he would be happy to keep tariffs on Chinese exports rather than make a deal.

“The reason for the China pullback & attempted renegotiation of the Trade Deal is the sincere HOPE that they will be able to “negotiate” with Joe Biden or one of the very weak Democrats, and thereby continue to ripoff the United States (($500 Billion a year)) for years to come,” Mr. Trump said on Twitter Wednesday morning.

“Guess what, that’s not going to happen! China has just informed us that they (Vice-Premier) are now coming to the U.S. to make a deal. We’ll see, but I am very happy with over $100 Billion a year in Tariffs filling U.S. coffers...great for U.S., not good for China!” he added.

Mr. Trump’s Twitter taunt comes as Chinese negotiators are en route to the United States to try to salvage a trade agreement that has fallen apart in recent days. The comments are likely to inflame tensions as negotiators on both sides prepare to reconvene for several days of meetings aimed at bringing those talks back from the brink. Vice Premier Liu He, one of China’s top economic officials and a close confidant of the country’s leader, Xi Jinping, will join talks in Washington beginning on Thursday.

But Mr. Trump appears ready to impose higher tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese goods on Friday morning, regardless of whether the talks get back on track. On Wednesday morning, the United States Trade Representative filed a public notice saying that tariffs on roughly $200 billion of Chinese products would increase to 25 percent from 10 percent on May 10 “in light of the lack of progress in the additional rounds of negotiations since March 2019.”

Steady progress between the two countries for a trade deal blew up last weekend, when China called for substantial changes to the negotiating text, and Mr. Trump responded by threatening to raise existing tariffs on $200 billion of products from China, and impose new tariffs on an additional $325 billion of products.

“Since the meeting on December 1, the United States and China have engaged in additional rounds of negotiation on these issues, including meetings in March, April, and May of 2019,” the notice read. “In the most recent negotiations, China has chosen to retreat from specific commitments agreed to in earlier rounds.”

Robert Lighthizer, the United States trade representative, accused China on Monday of reneging on what he described as “good, firm commitments on eliminating market-distorting subsidies.”

China has pushed back. During a routine briefing on Wednesday, Geng Shuang, a Chinese foreign ministry spokesman, said, “The Chinese side will not sidestep differences and has sincerity in continuing consultations.”

The retrenchment in the talks has come as a surprise to businesses and investors, who believed that the two countries were headed toward a deal that would open Chinese markets to American business, require China to protect intellectual property and result in large purchases of American products.

But the two sides had been unable to find common ground on a range of important economic issues. Progress broke down last week after China walked back its commitments, Trump administration officials said.

In talks last week in Beijing and then in a further exchange of documents at the start of last weekend, Chinese negotiators surprised their American counterparts by calling for changes in the language of all seven chapters of the 150-page draft agreement, people familiar with the negotiations said. The Chinese requests covered everything from intellectual property to subsidies and currency manipulation, the people said.


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