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July 22, 2019

U.S.-China Trade Talks Move Forward, But Slowly As U.S. Imposes Duties On Chinese Steel Racks

Chinese and U.S. trade officials continue to discuss a path forward on a potential trade pact between the two nations, but these talks apparently are moving slowly. According to Politico, in a telephone call last Thursday U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and U.S. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin “touched base with their Chinese counterparts,” but “no details on the conversation” were revealed. (Bloomberg has more on the call in this article.)

The phone conversation was the second time the lead negotiators have talked since U.S. President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping agreed in late June to resume trade negotiations. Politico also noted, “The restart of talks between Washington and Beijing has been relatively sluggish, and some China hawks inside and outside of the administration are warning that striking a deal could be a 2020 liability for Trump.”

Meanwhile, also according to Politico, in a cabinet meeting last week, President Donald Trump “reiterated that he could impose additional tariffs on Chinese imports if he wants.” Members of the president’s cabinet, including Treasury Secretary Mnuchin, reportedly are trying to prevent that and are pushing for a meeting between the two presidents on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly meeting in New York that is schedule for September.

In related news, meanwhile, the U.S. Department of Commerce announced last Thursday, July 18 that it has made a final determination on anti-dumping and countervailing duties on imports of steel racks from China. The department has ruled imports from China will be subject to anti-dumping duties ranging from roughly 18 percent to 144 percent and anti-subsidy duties from 1.5 percent and 102 percent. The U.S. imported nearly $200 million worth of steel racks in 2017.

The U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) is scheduled to make its final determinations in this matter on or about Sept. 3, 2019. If the ITC makes affirmative final determinations that imports of steel racks and parts thereof from China materially injure, or threaten material injury to, the domestic industry, the U.S. Commerce Department will issue anti-dumping and countervailing duty orders. If the ITC makes negative determinations of injury, the investigations will terminate.

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