WASHINGTON (Reuters) – US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said on Saturday he would travel to China, a move that could ease tensions between the two biggest economies in the world, as international authorities acknowledged that Beijing You need to change your business practices.
The United States has threatened to impose tariffs on up to 150 billion dollars of Chinese imports to try to force changes in Beijing's industrial policies, which Washington says are aimed at acquire US intellectual property.
Mnuchin told reporters that he was still holding talks with his Chinese counterparts to try to resolve differences over trade, but said he could go to Beijing.
"A trip is under consideration," Mnuchin told a news conference during the spring meetings of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank in Washington.
"I will not comment on the calendar, nor do I have anything confirmed, but a trip is being considered."
Mnuchin also did not want to say what he wants from a trade agreement with China, adding: "If we have a deal, they will know how it is when we have it."
China has threatened to retaliate against US exports if Washington goes ahead with tariffs. The dispute, which occurs when the world economy registers its greatest growth in years, overshadowed the biannual meeting of the world's financial officials.
IMF management, Christine Lagarde, warned earlier this week that a trade war between the US UU And China threatened to damage confidence, investment and growth. On Saturday, she said at a press conference that there would be no winners of that conflict.
"It is important that As a global community, let's keep trade open, we guarantee that we work within the multilateral system we have to make sure that if there are disputes, these disputes are resolved, "he said.
Mnuchin said he met with the new governor of China's central bank, Yi Gang, during meetings of the IMF and the World Bank and discussed China's potential to open its markets to greater foreign competition.
"I met with the Chinese here, the discussions were more about the actions of the governor in the People's Bank of China and about certain actions they announced in terms of opening some of their markets, which we encourage and appreciate very much."
In a statement on Saturday before the International Monetary and Financial Committee, Yi said China would "vigorously" push for reform and opening of its financial sector, significantly relax market access restrictions, create a more attractive investment environment , it would strengthen the protection of intellectual properties and actively expand imports.
Beijing announced on Wednesday that it would gradually eliminate property caps to foreign car, airplane and ship manufacturers.
Regarding trade with Japan, Mnuchin said the Trump administration wants a bilateral trade agreement and has had talks with Tokyo about such talks.
Japan wants states United joins the multilateral trade pact of Trans-Pacific Partnership. He fears that the opening of negotiations for a bilateral free trade agreement could pressure it to open politically sensitive markets such as agriculture.
ADJUSTING TO TRUMP
A year after US President Donald Trump criticized the multilateral financial meetings with his "America First" trade agenda, some officials begin to recognize that the conversation about trade has changed, even if they agree with their rate plans.
"No one can have any doubt that the United States has a valid argument about the theft of intellectual property" by China, British Finance Minister Philip Hammond said on Friday. "It has been happening, on an industrial scale, for many years and we have been targeted by it just as the USA has done"
At the same time, Hammond said that using tariffs was the wrong way to resolve trade disputes, and urged China to do more to open its markets to foreign competitors, particularly in services.
A senior Japanese government official drew a clear distinction between Japan's trade issues with the United States and the difference between the United States and China.
"It's a separate issue," the official said on condition of anonymity. "If Trump can help change China's behavior, there is room for Japan to benefit."
A European official at the meetings said that policy makers were trying to reduce commercial pressures during the talks, but added that they wanted to "make sure that there is a level playing field in trade, that China is in the same framework what others share. "
Mnuchin said he was not trying to "recruit" allies to press China, but to have talks with other countries that have similar problems. "Many of these problems are not unique to the United States."
Several officials expressed their desire for clarity about what the United States ultimately wants from China, and whether Trump will settle for lower Chinese automatic tariffs, a long-term shortfall in the US-China trade deficit or enduring fundamental changes in industrial policy.
"I hope it's a negotiating strategy, but they need to articulate actions to take," said Robert Holleyman, a former deputy representative of the United States Trade in the Obama administration.
Additional reports by David Chance, Jan Strupczewski, Koh Gui Qing, Rodrigo Campos and Makini Brice; Written by David Lawder; Edition of Paul Simao