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US urges more from China ahead of new trade talks

  • The US and China are set to meet for trade talks for the first time since negotiations broke down two months ago.

  • Trump has accused China of not being able to give the US an agreement that is acceptable.

  • The timing of the meeting will be critical given the next looming tariff date between the US and China is set for 23 August.

US President Donald Trump has urged China to bring a fairer deal to the bargaining table as the two countries prepare to meet for new trade talks later this month in an effort to reach a resolution before an all-out trade war ensues.

Amid escalating trade tensions, a Chinese delegation, led by Vice-Commerce Minister Wang Shouwen, will visit the US in late August to meet a group led by US Treasury Undersecretary David Malpass, according to multiple reports.

The meeting, initiated by the US Treasury Department, will be the first major negotiation between the two countries since talks broke down two months ago, and elevates hopes a resolution can be found.

Speaking at a cabinet meeting at the White House yesterday (16 August), Trump said: "We're talking to China, they very much want to talk. They just are not able to give us an agreement that is acceptable, so we're not going to do any deal until we get one that's fair to our country."

Before news of the meeting was reported, China's Ministry of Commerce had said in a statement: "The two governments should conform to the wishes of enterprises and provide them with a favourable environment and stable expectations."

The timing of the meeting will be critical given the next looming tariff date between the US and China is set for 23 August when each country will begin collecting 25% duties on US$16bn worth of imports.

Meanwhile, Trump has threatened a further $200bn of tariffs on Chinese goods, with the comment period opening next week. The tariffs, which China has vowed to retaliate against by levying duties on $60bn of US goods, could take effect by early September.

Steve Bowen, chairman and CEO of management consultancy Maine Pointe, says the open-ended trade war has created business uncertainty, with many companies becoming increasingly concerned it could hurt their bottom lines, drive up costs, or make it difficult to operate.

He suggests business should become proactive in de-risking and optimising the efficiency of their supply chains in the light of increased costs, and in assessing the potential risks 'vs' benefits of expanding production outside the US.

Moody's Investors Service says the threat of tariffs being imposed on all goods imported into the US from China would be a "credit negative" for the US apparel and footwear sector, leading to higher costs and gross margin pressures for up to two years until companies adjust their sourcing patterns.

China remains the dominant supplier of these products to the US, accounting for 34% of US apparel imports and 56% of US footwear imports in 2017.

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