Officials from the United States and China ended two days of talks yesterday, but without any major breakthrough as the trade war between the two countries escalated with another round of tariffs on $16 billion worth of each country’s goods.

Washington’s latest tariffs apply to 279 product categories, including semiconductors, plastics, chemicals and railway equipment, that the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative has said benefits from Beijing’s “Made in China 2025” industrial plan to make China competitive in high-tech industries.

China’s list of 333 U.S. product categories hit with duties include coal, copper scrap, fuel, steel products, buses, and medical equipment.

The talks were led by U.S. Treasury Under Secretary David Malpass and Chinese Commerce Vice Minister Wang Shouwen.  The talks were the first face-to-face U.S.-China meetings since early June.

“We concluded two days of discussions with counterparts from China and exchanged views on how to achieve fairness, balance, and reciprocity in the economic relationship,” White House spokeswoman Lindsay Walters said in a brief statement.

Business groups had expressed hope that the meeting would mark the start of serious negotiations over Chinese trade and economic policy changes demanded by President Trump.  However, the president told Reuters this week in an interview that he did not “anticipate much” from this week’s talks

In a brief statement today, the Chinese commerce ministry said both sides had a “constructive” and “candid exchange” over trade issues and will stay in touch on the next steps.

China’s Commerce Ministry said in Beijing that it has filed a complaint with the World Trade Organization over the latest round of U.S. tariffs.  The two countries have now targeted $50 billion of each other’s goods and threatened duties on most of the rest of their bilateral trade, raising concerns that the conflict could impact global economic growth.  Economists project that every $100 billion of imports hit by tariffs would reduce global trade by approximately 0.5 percent.

Although it is too early for trade damage to show up in most economic data, tariffs are beginning to increase costs for consumers and businesses on both sides of the Pacific, forcing companies to adjust supply chains and pricing, with some U.S. companies looking to decrease reliance on China.

 

 

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