Talk might be cheap, but it is certainly better than another round of multi-billion-dollar tit-for-tat tariffs between the United States and China.
In a move to defuse trade war tensions, Beijing has welcomed Washington’s offer to hold another meeting to sort out their differences.
“The Chinese side believes that the escalation of the trade conflict is not in the interest of either party,” Gao Feng, a spokesman for the Ministry of Commerce, said at a regular news briefing. “China has indeed received an invitation from the US and holds a welcoming attitude to it.”
News that US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin had invited senior Chinese officials for talks comes just under a week after President Donald Trump threatened to impose tariffs on all Chinese imports worth US$500 billion.
He also made it clear he was ready to impose tariffs worth $200 billion on goods “very soon” if President Xin Jinping’s government refused to back down.
So far, the two economic superpowers have imposed tariffs of 25% on more than $50 billion of each other’s exports.
The next round is likely to make thousands of products, ranging from dishwashers to Fitbit fitness trackers and food seasonings, more expensive for American consumers.
In response, China has vowed to retaliate with tariffs on another $60 billion of US exports, including meat, coffee, furniture and auto parts.
“With the $200 billion round of tariffs looming, this is probably the best time for the US to go back to the table with a ‘take it or leave it’ type of trade demand,” Robert Carnell, the chief Asia-Pacific economist at investment bank ING, said in a note.
In Washington, White House economic advisor Larry Kudlow sounded a cautious note about the possible outcome of talks.
“Secretary Mnuchin who is the team leader with China has apparently issued an invitation,” Kudlow told Fox Business Network. “Talking is better than not talking, so I regard this as a plus.”