WASHINGTON/BEIJING (Reuters) - The United States voiced willingness on Wednesday to negotiate a resolution to an escalating trade fight with China after Beijing retaliated against proposed U.S. tariffs on $50 billion in Chinese goods by targeting key American imports, but the Chinese ambassador to Washington said it “takes two to tango.”
(Graphic: U.S. trade in goods with China - tmsnrt.rs/2GcOZIH)
Just 11 hours after President Donald Trump’s administration proposed 25 percent tariffs on some 1,300 Chinese industrial, technology, transport and medical products, China shot back with a list of similar duties on major American imports including soybeans, planes, cars, beef and chemicals.
Beijing’s swift and forceful response raised the prospect of a quickly spiraling dispute between the world’s two economic superpowers that could harm the global economy.
(Graphic: U.S. imports from China - tmsnrt.rs/2FMsz1Q)
While Trump posted defiant messages on Twitter, his administration signaled possible wiggle room.
Asked whether the U.S. tariffs announced on Tuesday may never go into effect and may be a negotiating tactic, Trump’s top economic adviser, Larry Kudlow, told reporters: “Yes, it’s possible. It’s part of the process.” He called the announcements by the two countries mere opening proposals.
Kudlow later told Fox News Channel: “I don’t think it’s a trade war. I think there is going to be intense negotiations on both sides.”
“I think we’re going to come to agreements,” he said, adding that “I believe that the Chinese will back down and will play ball.”
Cui Tiankai, China’s ambassador to the United States, held an hour-long meeting at the U.S. State Department in Washington with acting Secretary of State John Sullivan.
“Negotiation would still be our preference, but it takes two to tango. We will see what the U.S. will do,” the ambassador said afterward.
The trade actions will not be carried out immediately, so there may be room for maneuver. Publication of Washington’s list on Tuesday started a period of public comment and consultation expected to last around two months. The effective date of China’s moves depends on when the U.S. action takes effect.
If the two countries are unable to settle the dispute, a full-scale trade war could destabilize U.S.-Chinese commercial ties, an important component of the global economy.
China’s action rattled U.S. farmers, while shares in U.S. exporters of everything from planes to tractors were volatile.
After dropping at the outset of trading, Wall Street’s three major indexes staged a comeback to close about 1 percent higher as investors turned their focus to earnings and away from the trade fight.
White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said U.S. implementation of the tariffs would depend on China’s behavior.
“It’s going to be a couple months before tariffs on either side would go into effect and be implemented and we’re hopeful that China will do the right thing,” she told reporters.
“I would anticipate that if there are no changes to the