U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross is expected to meet Chinese Vice Premier Liu He on Sunday, a U.S. government official said, as officials from the world’s two biggest economies try to calm an escalating trade spat that has rattled financial markets.
Ross arrived in Beijing on Saturday morning for trade talks with Chinese officials, after the Trump administration renewed its tariff threats against China, and with key U.S. allies in a foul mood towards Washington after they were hit with duties on steel and aluminum.
Liu is China’s chief negotiator in the trade dispute. Washington and Beijing have threatened tit-for-tat tariffs on goods worth up to $150 billion each.
Ross was preceded in Beijing this week by more than 50 U.S. officials and is expected during the two-day visit to try and secure long-term purchases of U.S. farm and energy commodities to help shrink the U.S. trade deficit. The U.S. team also wants to secure greater intellectual property protections and an end to Chinese subsidies that have contributed to overproduction of steel and aluminum.
The purchases Washington wants Beijing to commit to are aimed at reducing the $375 billion U.S. trade deficit with China. President Trump has demanded that China take steps to reduce the gap by $200 billion annually by 2020.
“The more Trump is irritating allies and asking Chinese to buy stuff, the better off they are because he’s not sitting there and attacking the hard issues,” a source said.