BIARRITZ, France/BEIJING–The United States and China sought to ease trade war tensions on Aug. 26, with Beijing calling for calm and U.S. President Donald Trump predicting a deal after markets fell in response to new tariffs from both countries.
Trump, speaking on the sidelines of the G7 summit of world leaders in France, said Chinese officials had contacted U.S. trade counterparts overnight and offered to return to the negotiating table.
“China called last night our top trade people and said ‘Let’s get back to the table’, so we’ll be getting back to the table, and I think they want to do something,” he said.
Vice Premier Liu He, who has been leading the talks with Washington, said on Monday China was willing to resolve the trade dispute through “calm” negotiations and resolutely opposed the escalation of the conflict.
“We are willing to resolve the issue through consultations and cooperation in a calm attitude and resolutely oppose the escalation of the trade war,” Liu, who is Chinese leader Xi Jinping’s top economic adviser, said, according to a government transcript.
The increasingly bitter trade war between the world’s two largest economies escalated on Friday, with both sides leveling more tariffs on each other’s exports.
Trump announced an additional duty on some $550 billion of targeted Chinese goods, hours after China unveiled retaliatory tariffs on $75 billion worth of U.S. goods.
On Sunday, the White House said Trump regretted not raising the tariffs even more. But the president also appeared to back off of his threat to order U.S. companies out of China.
Before Trump spoke on Monday, global stock markets reeled, while China’s yuan currency fell to an 11-year low. Investors streamed into the safe harbors of sovereign bonds and gold.
Trump said talks would start again soon and a deal would come.
“I think we are going to have a deal,” he said.
The two sides had been slated to meet in September in Washington, but it was unclear last week whether the new tariff tit-for-tat would alter those plans.
The United States accuses China of multiple economic sins, including intellectual property theft, currency manipulation, and forced technology transfer by U.S. companies to their Chinese partners as a requirement for doing business in China. China denies the U.S. allegations.
Beijing and Washington were close to a deal last spring, but U.S. officials said China backed away from an agreed text over a reluctance to change laws to address U.S. complaints.
The trade war has affected businesses all over the world and disrupted supply chains. Trump recently urged U.S. companies to move their operations out of China.
U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Trump could order companies out of China under the International Emergency Economic Powers Act if he declared a national emergency.