The United States is
optimistic about finding a way forward in its trade dispute with
China, but it does not have a date scheduled for further talks
as it assesses Beijing’s response to the latest round of
tariffs, a senior White House official said on Friday.
The official said despite its protestations, China was well
aware of US demands it halt what Washington considers unfair
US President Donald Trump has made clear his
resolve on the issue, the official said, and the two sides
remain in touch.
“We have been very clear in all of these meetings about what
is … required,” the official said. “I am still optimistic that
there is a positive way forward, and the president wants us to
continue to engage to try to achieve a positive way forward.”
The official’s comments came ahead of a report by the Wall
Street Journal that China had cancelled mid-level trade talks
with the United States, as well as a proposed visit to
Washington by vice premier Liu He originally scheduled for next
Earlier this week, China added $60 billion of US products
to its import tariff list as it hit back at US duties on $200
billion of Chinese goods that go into effect from September 24. The
escalating trade dispute has spooked financial markets.
Speaking to reporters at the White House on condition of
anonymity, the official made clear the administration’s ultimate
goal was not to separate the interlinked US and Chinese
economies, but he said companies could choose to alter their
supply chains if Beijing did not change course.
“Our goal here is not to cleave off the Chinese market from
the US market, I don’t think that’s good for long-term
growth,” he said.
“In the short term there is of course a risk
that if China continues on the path it is, that some companies
as a result of this may start … to move supply chains.”
The official also said he hoped Canada would agree to join a
US-Mexico trade deal by the end of the month, while saying he
thought US lawmakers would support a bilateral deal with
Mexico if that did not happen.
US and Canadian officials have been engaged in talks to
modernize the North American Free Trade Agreement, a 1994 deal
that underpins $1.2 trillion in trade between the United States,
Canada and Mexico.
The official dismissed concerns separate deals with Canada
and Mexico would have a negative impact on supply chains.
“I think it’s overblown to say that if we have separate
deals with these two, that there still can’t be a really high
degree of integration,” he said.