A China Ocean Shipping Group Co. (COSCO) cargo ship is unloaded at the Port of Vancouver terminal in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. (Photographer: Ben Nelms/Bloomberg)

China Cancels Trade Talks With U.S and Won’t Send Delegation to Washington: WSJ

(Bloomberg) -- China canceled trade talks with the U.S. and will no longer send Vice-Premier Liu He to Washington next week, the Wall Street Journal reported, citing unidentified people briefed on the matter.

A mid-level delegation from China had been due to travel to the U.S. capital to pave the way for Liu’s trip, and that visit has been scrapped as well, according to the newspaper’s website. Beijing is leaving open the possibility of holding fresh negotiations next month, it said.

China Cancels Trade Talks With U.S and Won’t Send Delegation to Washington: WSJ

In his push for what he calls a level playing field in dealing with China, President Trump slapped tariffs on $200 billion worth of imports and threatened more if Beijing retaliated. On Tuesday, China said it would impose levies on $60 billion worth of U.S. goods effective Sept. 24.

The new tariffs brought “new uncertainties” to China-U.S. negotiations, Gao Feng, a spokesman of China’s Ministry of Commerce said, when answering a question at a press conference on Thursday on whether the countries would have a new round of trade talks. He used exactly the same wording the ministry used in an earlier statement.

Phone inquiries to the Ministry of Commerce went unanswered Saturday.

Earlier, the Trump administration said it needs to confront China over its trading practices to defend U.S. long-term interests even as the escalation risks causing pain for American consumers. Inaction would leave the U.S. economy and consumers worse off over the longer run, a senior administration official told reporters on Friday, speaking on the condition of anonymity.

U.S. industry has widely pushed back against the Trump administration’s use of tariffs to force changes to China’s economy, and companies from Walmart Inc. to Gap Inc. and Samsonite International SA have said they’re prepared to raise prices if the new tariffs bite into their business.

Trump’s biggest strike yet in a growing trade fight between the world’s biggest economies will see a 10 percent duty applied to $200 billion of Chinese imports on Monday, which could rise to 25 percent next year. He’s threatened duties on a further $267 billion of made-in-China goods, which would hit almost all other consumer products including mobile phones, shoes and clothes.

The latest round of duties comes on top of a 25 percent tariff already imposed on about $50 billion in Chinese goods, which spurred counter-tariffs from Beijing.

Trump’s Stand

Trump continued to hit out at China late this week, signaling the trade war won’t end any time soon.

“It’s time to take a stand on China,” he said in an interview Thursday with Fox News. ”We have no choice. It’s been a long time. They’re hurting us.”

“The new U.S. tariffs on Chinese goods, mostly consumer-oriented, will depress spending and hurt the retail sector beginning in 2019,” Seema Shah and Danielle McIntee, analysts with Bloomberg Intelligence, wrote in a note on Friday. ”Lower-income families, already pinching pennies, are most exposed, given the likelihood of tariff-related price increases on everyday items.”

China Cancels Trade Talks With U.S and Won’t Send Delegation to Washington: WSJ

Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross earlier this week said the tariffs are spread over such a wide range of goods that Americans shouldn’t notice price increases.

“We were trying to do things that were least intrusive on the consumer,” Ross said on CNBC on Tuesday. “We really went item-by-item trying to figure out what would accomplish the punitive purpose on China and yet with the least disruption in the U.S.”

To contact Bloomberg News staff for this story: Miao Han in Beijing at mhan22@bloomberg.net

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With assistance from Editorial Board