Trump trade deal comes under anti-China fire

U.S. President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping.  Internet

A couple of months ago, when the U.S. and China appeared to be on the brink of a trade war, Elon Musk took to Twitter to complain to U.S. President Donald Trump about the unfair trade rules on U.S. vehicle sales in China, which make Tesla's cars much more expensive in the world's fastest-growing EV market. Negotiations in Washington last week ended with China agreeing to buy more imports from the USA, averting for now the imposition of US tariffs on billions of dollars of Chinese products.

Trump's uncertainty is understandable - he's facing competing pressures from his allies to both clamp down on unfair Chinese business practices and spare US farmers from a damaging trade war with China.

The stock markets reacted further to the president's latest comments, with the Dow Jones dropping 120 points in early trading.

A bipartisan group of more than two dozen Senators today urged the Trump administration to safeguard critical military and dual-use technology from China.

The People's Republic of China flag and the U.S. Stars and Stripes fly along Pennsylvania Avenue near the US Capitol during Chinese President Hu Jintao's state visit in Washington, DC, US on January 18, 2011.

"China opposes the abuse of national security clauses, which will seriously damage multilateral trade systems and disrupt normal worldwide trade order", Gao Feng, spokesman at the Ministry of Commerce, said at a regular news briefing on Thursday which focused largely on whether Beijing and Washington are making any progress in their growing trade dispute.

In fact, his unpredictable policy moves and temperament are offering openings to China that could help it fulfill its mission of cementing its rise to superpower status more quickly than expected.

Beijing has proposed that in order to increase the flow of U.S. exports to China, Washington allow the sale of goods to China that are not subject to restrictions if exported to Western countries.

China would not be able to reach this target by completely new imports but would need to substitute imports from other parts of the world, including the European Union, Japan and Korea, with USA imports, said Alicia Garcia-Herrero, Chief Economist for the Asia Pacific at Natixis, a French corporate and investment bank.


Trump said that as a favour to the Chinese president, he is taking a look at it. Of all the fights Trump had picked over trade, he wrote, his hand against China appeared to be the strongest.

According to a New York Times report published on Monday, the strained relationship between the treasury secretary, Steven Mnuchin, and the National Trade Council director, Peter Navarro, devolved into a shouting match in front of Chinese officials on a trip to Beijing earlier this month. "We are looking for a permanent exemption".

Earlier this month, there were reports that China - the world's top soybean purchaser - was curbing buying US soybeans due to the ongoing trade spat with Washington. He referenced the president's requirement that trade issues with China must change. Europe is also a big exporter to the U.S. Also, the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Foreign Agricultural Service on Friday reported cancellations of export sales for 949,000 metric tons of soybeans for delivery to what it called "unknown destinations".

"We hope the dismissal of these cases reflects a lessening of trade tensions as our leaders continue to dialogue", National Sorghum Producers Chairman Don Bloss said in a statement.

More recently, Trump moved the U.S. embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, despite a broad global consensus to determine the contested city's status within the context of broader negotiations on a settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

China has apparently scored a victory in a recent tariff standoff with the US.

In a separate statement released by the White House, Trump said he had "instructed" Ross to "consider" kicking off the probe.

In early March, Trump unveiled a 25 percent duty on steel imports and 10 percent charge on aluminum imports, essentially targeting suppliers such as China. Last month, China imposed hefty dumping duties of 179 percent on imports of the grain, which tends to be a cheaper feed alternative to corn.

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