China Considers Canceling Trade Talks With U.S., WSJ Says

China may drop out of trade talks. ( MGN Image )

(Bloomberg) -- China is considering canceling a planned Washington trip this week by the country’s top trade negotiator, the Wall Street Journal reported.

Beijing was surprised by U.S. President Donald Trump’s threat to levy new tariffs on trade with the country, the Journal reported, citing a person it didn’t identify. The country doesn’t want to negotiate under threat, the newspaper said.

The move comes after Trump ramped up pressure on China to finalize a trade deal during upcoming talks by threatening to more than double tariffs on $200 billion of the Asian nation’s sales to the world’s largest economy, and impose new import taxes. Chinese President Xi Jinping’s top trade envoy, Liu He, was slated to return to Washington on Wednesday for what was expected to be a closing round of trade talks.

In an abrupt shift from the White House after both sides had indicated negotiations were going well, Trump issued a pair of tweets on Sunday Washington time, saying he’s not satisfied with the pace of progress and that the duties would increase Friday.

Trump also raised the possibility of imposing a 25 percent tariff on another $325 billion in imports from China not currently covered. Such a move would be hugely disruptive for the U.S. economy as it would hit products such as smartphones and computers that have been left off lists so far.

Despite the happy talk from Trump and others in recent days, the U.S. has become frustrated with China’s backpedaling on some of its earlier commitments, including on the crucial matter of technology transfer, two people familiar with the situation said. That’s emboldened trade hawks within the Trump administration to push for a harder line, including the raising of tariffs, the people said.

 

©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

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