Ahead of the crucial talks next month to finalise the texts of trade deal with the United States (US) to end the trade war, a top Chinese official said on Sunday that China will import more goods from the US to balance bilateral trade, a key demand of President Donald Trump.
Trump is demanding China to reduce the $375 billion trade deficit and protection of intellectual property rights (IPR), technology transfer and more access to American goods to Chinese markets.
He has already increased the tariffs on over $250 billion Chinese exports to the US and threatened to extend tariffs on $200 billion Chinese imports to 25 per cent.
Trump held back his threat to impose additional tariffs on the rest of Chinese imports as both sides stepped up talks to finalise the text of the deal.
The White House said recently that talks between Chinese Vice-Premier Liu He, China’s main trade negotiator and the US Trade Representative Robert Lighthize and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin will be held on April in Washington.
Ahead of the talks, Vice-Premier and Politburo Standing Committee member Han Zheng told the China Development Forum in Beijing on Sunday that China will work to boost imports and achieve a more even balance of trade with the US.
Han told a gathering of foreign business representatives and former government officials from the US and other countries that his government was committed to levelling the playing field.
“We do not aim to (increase the) trade surplus and sincerely want to increase imports to achieve trade balance,” Han told the media.
He said that China would improve market access, including shortening the negative list of industries in which foreign investment is limited or prohibited, and ban the practice of forcing foreign firms to transfer proprietary technology to joint venture partners.
As the next step, we will continue to shorten the negative list for foreign investors and allow sole proprietorship of foreign businesses in more sectors, he said.
China would also speed up the opening up of more sectors, including telecommunications, education and health care, he said.
We will continue to strengthen intellectual property protection, prohibit forced technology transfers, and build a penalty and compensation system (for infringement cases),” he said.
Beijing is reported to have promised to buy larger quantities of US agricultural and energy products to help achieve that goal.
The trade gap for goods bought and sold by the US and China in 2018 rose 11.6 per cent from the previous year to a record $419 billion, stated media reports.
China recently passed a new foreign investment law which for the first time provide an opportunity to foreign firms from June 1 to invest in China without joint ventures with protection to technology.
Chinese officials say the new law with a negative list provides level playing field treating foreign firms on par with that of the domestic companies.