WASHINGTON/BEIJING (Reuters) - Top Trump administration officials are asking China to cut tariffs on imported cars, allow foreign majority ownership of financial services firms and buy more U.S.-made semiconductors in negotiations to avoid plans to slap tariffs on a host of Chinese goods and a potential trade war.
A person familiar with the discussions said these were among the asks from Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer as they pursue talks with Beijing.
The Wall Street Journal first reported the demands from U.S. officials, saying they came in a letter sent to Beijing last week.
White House trade adviser Peter Navarro confirmed that President Donald Trump asked Mnuchin and Lighthizer to try to resolve trade differences with China.
“We’re hopeful there that China will work with us to basically address some of these practices,” Navarro told CNBC television.
U.S. stocks surged on Monday on the news that the two sides were talking, after a massive rout last week when Trump announced plans to impose tariffs on up to $60 billion of Chinese imports over alleged misappropriation of U.S. intellectual property.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average .DJI posted its third biggest point gain ever, rising 669.4 points, or 2.8 percent, to close at 24,202.6 while the broader S&P 500 .SPX rose 2.7 percent after a nearly 6 percent drop last week.
Chinese Premier Li Keqiang earlier on Monday said that China and the United States should maintain negotiations and repeated pledges to ease access for American businesses to China’s markets.
Li told a conference that included global chief executives that China would treat foreign and domestic firms equally, would not force foreign firms to transfer technology and would strengthen intellectual property rights, repeating promises that have failed to placate Washington.
Despite a steady stream of fierce rhetoric from Chinese state media lambasting the United States for being a “bully” and warning of retaliation, Chinese and U.S. officials are busy negotiating behind the scenes.
TARIFFS TO PROCEED WITHOUT AGREEMENT
In an interview aired on Sunday, Mnuchin told Fox News that he was pursuing an agreement with the Chinese “for them to open up their markets, reduce their tariffs, stop forced technology transfer. These are all the things we want to do.”
“We are proceeding with these tariffs, we’re not putting them on hold unless we have an acceptable agreement that the president signs off on,” Mnuchin added.
China has offered to buy more U.S. semiconductors by diverting some purchases from South Korea and Taiwan, the Financial Times reported, citing people briefed on the negotiations. China imported $2.6 billion of semiconductors from the United States last year.
Chinese officials are also working to finalize rules by May