Donald Trump dampens chances of trade deal with China

May 18, 2018, 20:21 IST | AFP

Trump met with a Chinese delegation headed by Vice Premier Liu He on Thursday as talks aimed at easing frictions between the economic powers got underway

Donald TrumpDonald Trump

US and Chinese officials face a new round of tough trade talks on Friday as President Donald Trump discounted chances of a deal, but Beijing extended a potential olive branch.

Trump met with a Chinese delegation headed by Vice Premier Liu He on Thursday as talks aimed at easing frictions between the economic powers got underway.

"The two sides agreed to continue the discussions on Friday," the White House said.

But speaking earlier in the day about the prospects for the talks to be successful, Trump was not optimistic, saying: "I tend to doubt it." "China has become very spoiled... Because they always got 100 per cent of whatever they wanted from the United States," he said.

Trump unleashed a barrage of criticism against former US administrations for allowing Beijing to take advantage of the United States.

"We have been ripped off by China. And an evacuation of wealth like no country has ever seen before given to another country that's rebuilt itself based on a lot of the money that they've taken out of the United States," he said.

"Trade has been a total one-way street," Trump said. "And I explained to (China's) President Xi (Jinping) that we can't do that anymore." But hours later, China's commerce ministry announced that it was terminating its anti-dumping and anti-subsidy probe into US sorghum imports, saying punitive measures would increase costs for the Chinese livestock industry and consumers.

Provisional duties had been imposed last month. Tariffs on sorghum would hurt farmers in states such as Kansas, Texas, Colorado and Oklahoma, which are also major Republican-leaning states that makeup Trump's electoral base.

Separately, the Chinese delegation has offered a USD 200 billion reductions in its annual trade surplus with the US by increasing American imports and other measures, according to Bloomberg News, which cited a Trump administration official. Such a reduction is among a list of US demands.

But in Beijing, foreign ministry spokesman Lu Kang said the "rumours are false" and the "consultations are indeed still in progress and the talks are constructive."

Lu also said the decision to drop the sorghum probe should not be "over-interpreted." - 'Meet each other halfway'. China's Liu held talks with Trump and other top US officials, saying the two countries should "meet each other halfway, respect each other, and work together to push forward bilateral ties in a healthy and stable manner," according to China's official Xinhua news agency.

The US has threatened to impose 25 per cent punitive duties on up to USD 150 billion in Chinese goods while China has targeted USD 50 billion in American exports.

China said it hoped the two sides could resolve the trade frictions through talks.

"But of course we've prepared a response for various possibilities," commerce ministry spokesman Gao Feng said at a press briefing yesterday.

The meetings, part of a busy week of US trade negotiations and tight deadlines in Washington, have become enmeshed in political intrigue after a Trump advisor considered a hardliner on China was left out.

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