US Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross meets Chinese Premier Li Keqiang at the Zhongnanhai state guesthouse in Beijing, China, September 25, 2017. Photo: Reuters/Thomas Peter

Business groups in the US and China have warned against counter-productive trade sanctions in comments submitted to US authorities, multiple trade news publications reported this week. The comments were submitted ahead of a scheduled Oct 10 hearing for a probe into Chinese trade practices, launched in August.

The American Chamber of Commerce in Shanghai said in its remarks that “A tit-for-tat trade war would be damaging for all parties. Given the scale of U.S. investment in China, and the significant size of China business for many U.S. corporations, it is important that U.S. actions not put those interests at risk.”

The group’s statement, reported in Politico’s morning trade news roundup, urged that “any action by the US government in response to China’s unfair policies and laws should be carefully constructed and well-grounded in objectivity.”

The US National Foreign Trade Council echoed those remarks, saying Washington needs to “work through these and other trade-related problems with China in ways that are consistent with the open, rules-based trading system that the United States have built.”

The US-China Business Council emphasized that the “ultimate goal” of a Section 301 investigation should be the elimination of discriminatory trade practices in China, not imposing tariffs or restricting trade.

World Trade Online reported this week that the China Chamber of International Commerce also weighed in with comments submitted ahead of the hearing.

“Any unilateral confrontational actions may temporarily result in gain for one party but will lead to retaliatory measures from the other as response,” the Group wrote. Adding Trump’s action to launch investigation itself was “misguided and ill-informed.”

According to comments from the China Enterprise Confederation the “implementation of the Section 301 Investigation shall be regarded as an act of US unilateralism, and will harm the two sides as well as US enterprises that will also suffer from such an act.”

A readout of Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross’ recent meeting with officials in China highlighted the growing tension between the Trump administration and Beijing on trade issues:

“Chinese officials also expressed concern about US export controls and also the Section 301 investigation being conducted by the United States Trade Representative. In response, the Secretary relayed the ongoing concerns of the US business community at forced technology transfers, data localization, and other intellectual property rights issues. Chinese officials asked Secretary Ross to inform them of any such issues to them as they arise, saying they would seek to resolve these challenges on behalf of American companies.”