Beijing calls on U.S. to ease trade rules

Talks aimed at breaking down trade barriers between the United States and China appeared to hit a snag Wednesday in Washington, as the two sides canceled news conferences that were scheduled for the end of the meeting.

At a business lunch before the start of bilateral economic talks in Washington, Mnuchin said he hoped China would lift foreign ownership restrictions in its financial services sector to allow more US participation, and remove barriers to trade in its information and communication technology sector.

Advancing President Donald Trump's agenda, Mnuchin said a fair and balanced trade means providing the same access for American firms in China as the United States provide for Chinese firms.

The U.S. later issued a statement saying China acknowledged a shared objective to reduce the U.S.'s bilateral trade deficit.

"Unfortunately, American businesses have not had their fair share of the "cake" due to outdated United States regulations on export control", he said, noting that while U.S. high-tech exports to China accounted for 16.7 percent of China's total imports of such products in 2001, that dropped to 8.2 percent past year.

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According to the statement, the two countries agreed to cooperate in areas such as macro economy, finance, trade, investment and global economic governance in the one-year action plan.

Established by Trump and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping during their Mar-a-Lago Summit, the Comprehensive Economic Dialogue is an important step in economic relations between the two countries, Mnuchin said.

Wang said China now has 300 million people in the middle-income group and their demand for quality U.S. goods and services is swelling by the day.

At a White House event Monday, Trump suggested that the relationship is so strong that he asked during the Florida summit to start exporting USA beef to China and that the request was quickly granted.

Aside from steel, the Chinese had been expected to bring up the US's refusal to sell Beijing advanced technology products during the talks, while the U.S. was expected to bring up North Korea's nuclear and missile programmes during talks, though it was unclear whether or not this happened. His administration has threatened new sanctions on small Chinese banks and other firms doing business with Pyongyang.

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U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said on Tuesday (July 18) they will be looking for specific agreements from China this week to further increase access for U.S. companies to China's growing consumer markets.

But Ross and Mnuchin took a more measured tone in a statement following the conclusion of the talks with the Chinese delegation, led by Vice Premier Wang Yang. Earlier, he had warned that confrontation between the two countries would be damaging.

The administration has decisions pending on the national security implications of importing steel and aluminum, as it blames China for creating excess capacity with production of the metals at record highs.

Steel producers in the United States, like U.S. Steel Corp and AK Steel, stand to benefit from protectionist tariffs which would enable them to raise their prices.

Trump, who met American steelmakers the same day, replied to a reporter's question by saying the US may impose high tariffs on steel imports. A U.S. Commerce Department spokesman said that "We hope to report further progress on the 100-day deliverables next week". While the administration is still carrying out an investigation into the subject, past statements suggest they believe China's overproduction is putting the US steel industry out of business and therefore compromising national security.

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