A gantry crane loads a container onto a container ship at a terminal in South Korea. (Photographer: SeongJoon Cho/Bloomberg)

Ross Says U.S. and China Are `Pretty Far Apart' in Trade Talks

(Bloomberg) -- The U.S. and China remain far apart on trade following high-level meetings between officials of both countries last week, U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said.

Ross was part of a U.S. delegation led by Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin that met May 3-4 in Beijing with senior Chinese officials led by Vice Premier Liu He. Ross said the U.S. delegates briefed President Donald Trump after their return, and that Liu is expected to travel to Washington in the next couple weeks to continue discussions, Ross said.

“The good news there is a meaningful, very high level, very detailed dialogue. Bad news is we’re pretty far apart at this point in time," he said.

Ross said the U.S. sent the Chinese a multiple-page document ahead of the meetings detailing U.S. trade demands in terms of goods and services, as well as market access and intellectual-property rights. Beijing responded with their own list.

“As you can imagine, it was quite different from ours,” Ross said. “So there is a considerable gap remaining even though we spent a total of about 30 hours in very high level discussions with them.”

Trump, Xi

Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping discussed trade and North Korea in a phone call Tuesday. The two covered Xi’s meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and agreed on the importance of continuing sanctions on North Korea until it permanently dismantles its nuclear and missile programs, according to a White House statement.

Trump also reiterated his commitment to ensuring that the U.S. and China have a balanced investment and trade relationship, according to the statement.

The U.S. has threatened to impose tariffs on as much as $150 billion in Chinese goods in retaliation for alleged violations of intellectual property. The government may impose the duties after a public comment period ends May 22.

Trump wants China to cut its annual trade surplus with the U.S. by at least $200 billion by the end of 2020 and refrain from retaliation against proposed U.S. tariffs. China wants the U.S. to stop an investigation into the country’s acquisition of sensitive American technologies.

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