China hopes for positive results from US talks at G20

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US President Donald Trump with President Xi Jinping in China last year. Supplied

BEIJING (Reuters) – China is hoping for “positive results” in resolving a trade dispute with the United States at a G20 summit in Argentina, the commerce ministry said yesterday, ahead of a closely watched meeting between the Chinese and US leaders.

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US President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping are due to hold trade talks on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Buenos Aires on Saturday.

Asked if China was seeking to prevent more US tariffs at the high-stakes meeting, the ministry’s spokesman, Gao Feng, said economic teams from both sides were in contact to implement a “consensus” reached by Mr Trump and Mr Xi in a phone call this month.

“I hope that the United States and China could move toward each other and work hard to achieve positive results in the meeting,” Mr Gao said, without giving any details.

The United States has levied additional duties of between 10 percent and 25 percent on $250 billion of Chinese goods this year as punishment for what it calls China’s unfair trade practices, with the 10 percent tariffs set to rise to 25 percent next year.

A Reuters poll on Wednesday showed China’s factories likely struggled to grow for a second straight month in November as cooling demand at home and the threat of higher US tariffs stifled new orders.

“The Chinese side has repeatedly stressed that the essence of Sino-US economic and trade cooperation is about mutual benefit and win-win,” Mr Gao said.

On the other hand, US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer said on Wednesday that he was examining all available tools to raise US tariffs on Chinese vehicles to the 40 percent duties that China is now charging on US-produced vehicles.

Mr Lighthizer said in a statement criticizing China’s “egregious” tariffs on US autos that he was taking such action at the direction of Mr Trump.

The statement came just days before Mr Trump is due to meet Chinese President Xi Jinping in Buenos Aires in a showdown that could ease or worsen the trade war between the world’s two largest economies.

Automotive duties on both sides have been increased by tit-for-tat tariffs. The United States imposed a 25 percent tariff on Chinese vehicles on top of the 2.5 percent it normally charges.

China had lowered tariffs for all other countries to 15 percent, but imposed an additional 25 percent retaliatory tariff on US vehicles.

Chinese auto exports to the United States are relatively small. It exported 53,300 vehicles to the US market last year and imported 280,208 US manufactured vehicles, according to data from the China Automotive Technology and Research Center (CATARC), a government-affiliated think-tank.

Carmakers are already rearranging global production to absorb the rising trade tensions between the world’s two biggest economies.

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