Tuesday, 6 Dec 2022

Robert Lighthizer denies he said China tariffs on hold

WASHINGTON (REUTERS) – US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer on Thursday (Nov 15) denied a report that he had told some industry executives that another round of tariffs on Chinese imports had been put on hold as the two nations pursue talks.

“Ambassador Lighthizer has made no representations to industry executives that future Section 301 tariffs are on hold,” a spokesman for his office said in a statement.

“The plan for the tariffs… has not changed at all. Any reports to the contrary are incorrect.” 

The report appeared in the Financial Times, which cited an unnamed person familiar with the situation.

US President Donald Trump has already imposed tariffs on US$250 billion (S$345 billion) of Chinese imports into the United States to force concessions from Beijing on his list of demands for trade reforms.

He has also threatened to target another US$267 billion worth of goods if his demands are not addressed.

Reuters reported on Wednesday that China had delivered a written response to Washington’s demands, citing three US government sources.

However, the sources gave no further details and it was not clear if the response contained concessions that would satisfy Trump.

The back-and-forth on trade comes ahead of an expected meeting between Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping on the sidelines of a Group of 20 summit in Argentina at the end of November and in early December.

While two industry sources familiar with the contents of the response told Reuters it was largely a restatement of previous Chinese commitments, it was seen as a necessary starting point for continued negotiations.

One of the sources briefed on China’s response said it reiterated pledges Xi had made in recent speeches, and demanded that the United States lift tariffs, including those placed on steel and aluminium imports.

“They are not close to a favorable deal on trade. Not in the same universe,” the Washington-based source said.

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