Mnuchin, in China, looks forward to trade talks

14 February, 2019, 12:45 | Author: Eric Barnett
  • World War 3 fears in South China Sea

US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said he was "looking forward" to crunch negotiations with China as he emerged in Beijing on Tuesday with global attention focused on whether the two sides can reach a trade deal.

The high-stakes dispute has raised concerns it could spill over into the global economy after Trump a year ago hit China with 25 percent punitive tariffs on $50 billion in goods, and then imposed 10 percent duties on another $200 billion in annual imports.

Mnuchin, along with U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, arrived in the Chinese capital on Tuesday.

Aides to Trump say this week's talks are important as they need to demonstrate credible progress to both the president and financial markets.

Trump agreed in December to postpone more tariff hikes while the two sides negotiate.

Trump has said he did not expect to meet with Xi prior to March 1. The situation could get worse as a truce on tariffs is set to expire in early March. After meetings in Washington last week ended in a stalemate, officials kicked off another round of talks in Beijing.


The alleged incursion by two USA warships into the internationally disputed waters of the South China Sea was the second such move within five weeks.

China's Foreign Ministry referred questions on the talks to the Ministry of Commerce, which did not respond to a request for comment. Beijing officials have yet to offer satisfying proposals on USA demands.

United States officials previously said 1 March was a hard deadline for achieving a deal to avert further tariffs. Since then, the two countries have exchanged several rounds of trade tariffs.

"All operations are designed in accordance with global law and demonstrate that the United States will fly, sail and operate wherever worldwide law allows", Doss said, adding "that is true in the South China Sea as in other places around the globe".

China says the bases are essential for self-defense and accused the United States of ramping up tensions in the region by sending battleships and warplanes close to the disputed islands.

China and the USA, the world's two largest economies, have a series of other disagreements too, including over Chinese telecoms giant Huawei Technologies. In September, a Chinese warship came within just 45 yards of a US destroyer, raising concerns about the possibility of tensions boiling over into conflict.

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