'Frank' trade discussions in Beijing: US commerce secretary

GETTY Wilbur Ross said that the rules will make EU  US trade difficult

BEIJING-U.S. and Chinese negotiators wrapped up their latest round of trade talks without a settlement, with Beijing saying it won't abide by any deal if Washington goes ahead with threatened tariffs.

"If the U.S. introduces trade sanctions including tariff increases, all economic and trade achievements negotiated by the two parties so far will be void", said a Chinese government statement issued by the official Xinhua news agency.

"The two sides had good communication about implementing the consensus reached in Washington and on many areas such as agriculture and energy, achieving positive and concrete progress", the state news agency said, adding details would be subject to "final confirmation by both parties".

The talks were led by US Commerce secretary Wilbur Ross and Chinese Vice-Premier Liu He in Beijing.

Last month, they held talks in Washington and put out a joint statement.

The White House threw the meeting's status into doubt on Tuesday (local time) by renewing a threat to impose 25 per cent tariffs on $US50 billion ($66 billion) of Chinese high-tech goods in response to complaints Beijing steals or pressures foreign companies to hand over technology.

President Donald Trump is pressing Beijing to narrow its multibillion-dollar trade surplus and is threatening to hike duties on up to $150 billion of Chinese imports.

Mr Trump is pressing Beijing to narrow its politically volatile trade surplus with the United States, which reached a record $US375.2 billion ($495.7 billion) a year ago.

The American Embassy in Beijing did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The White House has said it would announce a final list of Chinese imports covered by the United States tariffs on June 15, with the other measures to follow later this month. It said the White House also would impose curbs on Chinese investment and purchases of U.S. high-tech goods and on visas for Chinese students.

While U.S. officials have sent conflicting signals during the dispute with China, one person familiar with planning for Ross' visit said his aim was to keep dialogue going.

USA treasury secretary Steven Mnuchin said on Saturday the United States wanted this weekend's talks to result in structural changes to China's economy, in addition to increased Chinese purchases of American goods.

Beijing warned all the commitments it had made so far were premised on "not fighting a trade war".

U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Saturday that the push to have China purchase more American goods was partially meant to shrink a $375 billion U.S. trade deficit with the country.

Ross had a working dinner Saturday evening with Liu, also at the same guesthouse in Beijing.

Only two days ago, on Friday, steel and aluminium tariffs were imposed on the EU, Canada and Mexico.

Trump's announcement that he wanted to proceed with tariffs on China came less than two weeks after the two countries had said they were putting threats of tariffs on hold while they continued negotiating.

That might alienate allies who share complaints about Chinese technology policy and a flood of low-cost steel, aluminium and other exports they say are the result of improper subsidies and hurt foreign competitors.

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