Chinese and US flags flutter near The Bund, before US trade delegation meet their Chinese counterparts for talks in Shanghai, China. File photo/Reuters
China and the United States are in close communication on trade, its commerce ministry said on Thursday, declining to comment on possible retaliatory steps if Washington imposes more tariffs on Chinese goods this weekend.
The United States is due to impose tariffs on almost $160 billion of Chinese imports such as video game consoles, computer monitors and toys on Sunday.
US President Donald Trump is expected to meet top trade advisers on Thursday to discuss the move, sources told Reuters previously.
A decision to proceed with the levies could roil financial markets and scuttle US-China talks to end the 17-month-long trade war between the world’s two largest economies.
“The two sides’ economic and trade teams are maintaining close communication,” Gao Feng, spokesman at the Chinese commerce ministry, told reporters at a regular briefing.
The countries agreed in October to conclude a preliminary trade agreement, but talks have failed to produce deals on agricultural purchases by China and rollbacks of existing tariffs imposed by the United States. Many analysts had expected a deal ahead of Dec.15.
Beijing has said it would retaliate if the United States escalates the trade dispute.
In August, China said it would impose 5% and 10% in additional tariffs on $75 billion of US goods in two batches. Tariffs on the first batch kicked in on Sept.1, hitting US goods including soybeans, pork, beef, chemicals and crude oil.
The tariffs on the second batch of products are due to be activated on Dec.15, affecting goods ranging from corn and wheat to small aircraft and rare earth magnets.
China also said at the time that it will reinstitute on Dec.15 an additional 25% tariff on US-made vehicles and 5% tariffs on auto parts that had been suspended at the beginning of 2019.
China’s factory activity shrank more than expected in June, an official manufacturing survey showed, highlighting the need for more economic stimulus as US tariffs and weaker domestic demand ramped up pressure on new orders for goods.
The White House said on Friday that President Donald Trump is delaying a decision by up to six months on whether to impose tariffs on imported cars and parts to allow for more time for trade talks with the European Union and Japan.
China on Saturday increased tariffs on billions worth of US goods as it prepares to unveil a blacklist of “unreliable” foreign companies that analysts say aims to punish US and foreign firms cutting off supplies to telecoms giant Huawei.
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