China says in close communication with US on trade as fresh tariffs loom

Reuters Beijing, Liaoning, China Dec 12, 2019, 01.27 PM(IST)

File Photo: US President Donald Trump and China's President Xi Jinping shake hands after making joint statements at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China Photograph:( Reuters )

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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

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, a 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 December 15.

Beijing has said it would retaliate if the United States escalates the trade dispute.

In August, China said it would impose 5 per cent and 10 per cent in additional tariffs on $75 billion of US goods in two batches. Tariffs on the first batch kicked in on September 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 December 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 December 15 an additional 25 per cent tariff on US-made vehicles and 5 per cent tariffs on auto parts that had been suspended at the beginning of 2019.