U.S. and China to resume trade talks amid tariff battle

Workers unload cargo at the port of Zhangjiagang in China's eastern Jiangsu province on Aug. 7.
(Johannes Eisele / AFP/Getty Images)

U.S. and Chinese officials said the two nations will resume lower-level trade talks this month in hopes of resolving an escalating battle over tariffs that threatens to damage both economies.

At the invitation of the Trump administration., China’s vice commerce minister, Wang Shouwen, will lead a delegation traveling to the U.S. late this month to discuss “economic and trade issues of mutual concern,” the Chinese Commerce Ministry said in a statement Thursday.

The delegation from Beijing will meet with U.S. officials led by David Malpass, the Treasury Department’s undersecretary for international affairs, the statement said.


“The Chinese side reiterated that it opposes unilateralism and trade protectionism and does not accept any unilateral trade restrictions,” the statement said.

Before U.S. financial markets opened, Larry Kudlow, President Trump’s top economic advisor, confirmed the talks, which will be held at a lower level than negotiations in the spring attended by him and Treasury Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin.

The Dow Jones industrial average jumped at the open and closed up about 396.32 points, or 1.6%, at 2,558.73 Thursday amid investor optimism that the resumption of talks could end the growing trade war between the world’s two largest economies.

“Anytime you talk is better than not talking,” Kudlow told CNBC. But he warned Chinese officials not to “underestimate the determination of President Trump” in the trade war.

“Give us market openings, take down your barriers, stop trying to capture and steal technology from the U.S. and Western companies. Give us a chance to compete [and] we will sell a ton of exports to China,” Kudlow said.

“They know what our asks are,” he said. “Perhaps, let’s be optimistic, they’ll follow through and some good will come of it.”


There were no additional details on the talks.

Speaking at the White House later Thursday, Trump said he would hold out for a good deal.

“We’re talking to China.They very much want to talk,” he said during a Cabinet meeting. “They are just not able to give us a deal that’s acceptable, so we’re not going to do any deal until we get one that’s fair to our country.”

Officials from the two countries have not been talking since the U.S. followed through on Trump’s threats by imposing 25% tariffs on $34 billion worth of imports from China in July, the first stage of an effort to hit $50 billion in imports from there.

Trump is trying to force China to loosen its trade restrictions to reduce the U.S. trade deficit with the Asian superpower.

China responded with its own 25% tariffs on $34 billion worth of U.S. imports as a tit-for-tat trade war was launched.

U.S. officials said last week that they were moving ahead with 25% tariffs on an additional $16 billion of imports from China. Customs officials will begin collecting those on Aug. 23 on 279 categories of goods, including motorcycles, fiber optic cables and railway cars.

China has showed no signs of backing down. Officials said they would impose 25% tariffs on $16 billion worth of U.S. goods, including some vehicles, fiber optic cables, industrial chemicals, gasoline and other fuels, on the same day.


Looming ahead is a Trump threat to place tariffs on an additional $200 billion in Chinese imports. On Aug. 1, Trump tried to increase pressure on China by telling administration officials to consider more than doubling the size of those tariffs, to 25% from the 10% initially proposed in July.

Twitter: @JimPuzzanghera


1:35 p.m.: This article has been updated with the close of the Dow Jones industrial average and comments from President Trump and China’s Commerce Ministry.


This article originally was published at 8:55 a.m.