US trade chief meets with Chinese counterpart to test bilateral engagement


U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai testifies before the Senate Finance Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington, USA, May 12, 2021. Susan Walsh / Pool via REUTERS / File Photo

WASHINGTON, Oct. 8 (Reuters) – U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai on Friday held a call with her Chinese counterpart, Vice Premier Liu He, to verify whether bilateral engagement with Beijing can address U.S. complaints regarding China’s trade and subsidy practices, a USTR official said. .

The call marks the second time Tai and Liu have spoken, and it follows Tai’s speech on Monday announcing that she would seek “frank” talks with Beijing and force China to honor its commitments under a deal. “phase 1” trade negotiated by former President Donald Trump. .

“Ambassador Tai and Vice Premier Liu reviewed the implementation of the US-China Economic and Trade Agreement and agreed that the two sides will consult on some outstanding issues,” USTR said in a statement.

In a pre-call briefing, which took place Friday evening Washington time, a senior USTR official said Tai would give Liu an assessment of China’s performance in implementing the “Phase 1” agreement, including promised purchases of US products that are below targets. She would also voice concerns about China’s “non-market” economic practices.

“We recognize that Beijing is increasingly explicit that it is doubling down on its authoritarian state-centric approach and resisting addressing our structural concerns,” the official said. “Therefore, our main focus will continue to be on building resilience and competitiveness, diversifying markets and limiting the impact of Beijing’s harmful practices.”

The official said Tai would base his future engagement with China on “how China is responding to tonight’s call” and declined to discuss possible next steps, but added that Tai will not seek to negotiate the issue. “phase 2” with Beijing on state subsidies and other structural issues.

January’s “phase 1” deal eased a long tariff war between the world’s two largest economies. He mainly focused on China’s pledge to increase purchases of US agricultural and manufactured goods, energy and services by $ 200 billion over two years, as well as increased copyright protection. , trademarks and other forms of intellectual property.

The Trump administration envisioned a “phase 2” negotiation to follow to tackle more difficult issues such as subsidies to state-owned enterprises and China’s strategic industrial policies.

Asked if the United States would resort to another “Section 301” investigation that could lead to increased tariffs on Chinese products if the engagement with Beijing fails, the official said United States would use “the full range of tools at our disposal to protect American workers.” , farmers and businesses against unfair trading practices. “

Tai, who is fluent in Mandarin and the daughter of immigrants from Taiwan, sees the appeal as “a test of whether or not this kind of engagement will help get the results we’re looking for, and we’re moving forward with it.” the hopes that China responds positively, ”the USTR official said.

Reporting by David Lawder, editing by Rosalba O’Brien

Our Standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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