Kudlow says U.S. expects China to start purchasing crops very soon

FILE PHOTO: White House chief economic advisor Larry Kudlow speaks with reporters on the driveway outside the West Wing of the White House in Washington, U.S. June 27, 2019. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow said on Thursday the United States expects China to start purchasing crops and U.S. agricultural products soon and noted that trade talks between the two countries are ongoing.

The United States and China agreed last month to restart trade talks that stalled in May. President Donald Trump agreed not to impose new tariffs and U.S. officials said China agreed to make agricultural purchases, but those have not yet materialized.

(Reporting by Jeff Mason; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama)

U.S., China to relaunch talks with little changed since deal fell apart

By David Lawder and Chris Prentice

WASHINGTON/NEW YORK (Reuters) – The United States and China are set to relaunch trade talks this week after a two-month hiatus, but a year after their trade war began there is little sign their differences have narrowed.

After meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping in Japan just in late June, U.S. President Donald Trump agreed to suspend a new round of tariffs on $300 billion worth of imported Chinese consumer goods while the two sides resumed negotiations.

Trump said then that China would restart large purchases of U.S. agricultural commodities, and the United States would ease some export restrictions on Chinese telecom equipment giant Huawei Technologies.

But sources familiar with the talks and China trade watchers in Washington say the summit did little to clear the path for top negotiators to resolve an impasse that caused trade deal talks to break down in early May.

A U.S. official said last week the discussions were expected to resume with a phone call between U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, Chinese Vice Premier Liu He and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.

A USTR spokesman said the call was expected this week, but gave no further details.

The United States is demanding that China make sweeping policy changes to better protect American intellectual property, end the forced transfer and theft of trade secrets and curb massive state industrial subsidies. At stake, U.S. officials say, is dominance of the high-tech industries of the future, from artificial intelligence to aerospace.

“We’ve had a change in atmospherics,” said Derek Scissors, a China expert at the American Enterprise Institute, a business-oriented Washington think tank. “While this is great for markets, the administration has not said one specific thing about how we’re unstuck.”

Scissors, who has at times consulted with Trump administration officials, said that both sides got what they wanted out of the summit — a lowering of the temperature and the avoidance of new tariffs that would have been painful for both sides.

“The pressure for one side to give into the other is diffused right now. I expect this to drag out for months,” Scissors added.

NO FIRM COMMITMENTS

Washington and Beijing appear to have different ideas of what the two leaders agreed in Osaka.

Three sources familiar with the state of negotiations say that the Chinese side did not make firm commitments to immediately purchase agricultural commodities.

One of the sources said Trump raised the issue of agricultural purchases twice during the meeting, but Xi only agreed to consider purchases in the context of a broader final agreement.

Other than a small purchase of American rice by a private Chinese firm, no purchases have materialized. Chinese officials and state media accounts in the past week have emphasized that any deal, including agricultural purchases, is dependent on removal of U.S. tariffs.

“The Chinese have been clear they didn’t promise anything,” said one source familiar with the talks.

“The idea they would give up their main leverage before getting anything doesn’t make sense. I could see them buying some pork and buying some soybeans, but it’s still going to be pennies.”

Trump administration officials have also downplayed the extent of pledges to allow Huawei to purchase U.S. technology products, with White House trade adviser Peter Navarro saying that only “lower-tech” U.S. semiconductors could be made available for sale to the company..

Reuters reported last week that the Commerce Department’s export control enforcement staff was told to continue to treat Huawei as a blacklisted entity as the department considers requests for licenses to U.S. firms to sell products and services to Huawei

Chinese officials point out that they only got the United States to concede on Huawei at the Osaka talks, rather than on their other demand, which was removing the existing tariffs.

So the focus on the upcoming talks will be the scrapping on the tariffs, they say.

A second source said that U.S. tariffs on $250 billion worth of Chinese goods and Chinese tariffs on $160 billion worth of U.S. goods could wind up being “the new normal.”

One Chinese official familiar with the situation said that trade talks would be re-started very quickly, but that there was a “fairly large gap” in the core demands of both countries and it would be a challenge to reach consensus on the toughest issues.

“The negotiating environment is even more severe,” the official said.

Another official said China remained concerned about the presence of hawks in the U.S. team, such as Trump advisor Peter Navarro.

“There are bullies there,” the official said.

The officials spoke to Reuters on condition of anonymity.

China’s foreign ministry cited Xi as telling Trump at Osaka that “on issues concerning China’s sovereignty and dignity, China must safeguard its core interests”.

A senior Beijing-based Asia diplomat said there would be pressure on China’s leadership not to give in to the United States and for any outcomes to seen as equal and balanced.

“A trade deal cannot be portrayed as a victory for the United States,” the diplomat said, citing conversations with Chinese officials.

WHICH TEXT?

There has been no indication the two sides will resume negotiations using a text that had been largely agreed before China backtracked on commitments in early May, prompting Trump to proceed with a long-threatened tariff hike to 25 percent on a $200 billion list of Chinese imports.

Beijing had cut out of that text commitments to make changes to its laws reflecting reform pledges, arguing that this would violate its national sovereignty.

Lighthizer has insisted on legal changes to make it more likely that Chinese reform pledges will be carried out.

Finding a way around this issue is paramount for talks. Beyond that, there are many other difficult issues to resolve, including the structure of an enforcement mechanism designed to hold the two sides to their pledges.

U.S. demands for curbs to provincial and local subsidies for Chinese state companies, access to China’s cloud computing market, agricultural biotech approvals and the ultimate size of China’s purchases of agricultural products are all divisive issues for the two sides.

Claire Reade, a former China trade negotiator at USTR who is now a Washington-based trade lawyer with the firm Arnold and Porter, said there was room on both sides to get a deal.

“It’s a question of political will and there are ways to maneuver around the current red flags that have been put in the ground,” Reade said. “Both President Xi and President Trump have to come out of this saying they stood strong, and they in-effect got a win.”

One way for China to avoid the appearance of giving in to U.S. demands is to take some legal steps on key issues before the deal is agreed. That way they can say they’re doing it on their own terms, she added.

(Additional reporting by Ben Blanchard in Beijing and Andrea Shalal in Washington; Editing by Simon Webb and Alistair Bell)

Trump officials say U.S.-China trade talks to resume next week

Workers load goods for export onto a crane at a port in Lianyungang, Jiangsu province, China June 7, 2019. Picture taken June 7, 2019. REUTERS/Stringer

By Jeff Mason

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Top representatives of the United States and China are organizing a resumption of talks for next week to try to resolve a year-long trade war between the world’s two largest economies, Trump administration officials said on Wednesday.

“Those talks will continue in earnest this coming week,” White House Economic Adviser Larry Kudlow told reporters in a briefing.

An official from the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative said later that the two sides were in the process of scheduling a principal-level phone call with Chinese officials for next week.

The principal negotiators on the U.S. side are U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, while China’s top negotiator is Vice Premier Liu He.

The two sides have been in communication by telephone since last weekend, when U.S. President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping agreed to relaunch talks that had stalled in May.

Kudlow was unclear about the timeline for relaunching face-to-face talks, saying that these would begin “soon” and that an announcement would be forthcoming.

“I don’t know precisely when. They’re on the phone. They’re going to be on the phone this coming week and they’ll be scheduling face-to-face meetings,” he said.

Talks between the two sides broke down in May after U.S. officials accused China of pulling back from commitments it had made previously in the text of an agreement that negotiators said was nearly finished.

The United States accuses China of allowing intellectual property theft and forcing U.S. companies to share their technology with Chinese counterparts in order to do business in China. It wants China to change its laws on those and other issues.

China denies such practices and is reluctant to make sweeping legal changes.

Both countries have levied tariffs on the other, but Trump made two major concessions at the meeting with Xi to get talks started again: he agreed not to put tariffs on some $300 billion in additional Chinese imports and to loosen restrictions on Chinese technology company Huawei.

China welcomed the U.S. decision not to put new tariffs on Chinese goods, commerce ministry spokesman Gao Feng told a regular media briefing on Thursday, but added the removal of existing U.S. tariffs was essential for a trade deal.

“The U.S. move to unilaterally increase tariffs on Chinese imports started the Sino-U.S. economic and trade frictions. If both sides could reach a deal, those tariffs must be completely removed,” said Gao.

The United States has 25% tariffs on $250 billion of Chinese goods now ranging from semi-conductors to furniture.

“We’ve been accommodative. We will not lift tariffs during the talks,” Kudlow said. “We are hoping that China will toe its end of it by purchasing a good many of American imports.”

Gao said China hoped the United States would follow through on Trump’s promise to ease restrictions on telecommunications giant Huawei.

Trump surprised markets on Saturday with an announcement that U.S. companies would be allowed to sell products to Huawei, which was placed on a so-called Entity List in May over national security concerns.

But industry and government officials are uncertain what the new policy will be.

The U.S. Commerce Department is reviewing license requests from U.S. companies seeking to export products to Huawei “under the highest national security scrutiny”.

(Reporting by Jeff Mason and David Lawder in Washington; Additional reporting by Stella Qiu; Editing by James Dalgleish and Lisa Shumaker)

Trump says China trade talks ‘back on track,’ new tariffs on hold

U.S. President Donald Trump and China's President Xi Jinping shake hands before their bilateral meeting during the G20 leaders summit in Osaka, Japan, June 29, 2019. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

By Roberta Rampton and Michael Martina

OSAKA (Reuters) – The United States and China agreed on Saturday to restart trade talks after President Donald Trump offered concessions including no new tariffs and an easing of restrictions on tech company Huawei in order to reduce tensions with Beijing.

China agreed to make unspecified new purchases of U.S. farm products and return to the negotiating table, Trump said. No deadline was set for progress on a deal, and the world’s two largest economies remain at odds over significant parts of an agreement.

The last major round of talks collapsed in May.

Financial markets, which have been rattled by the nearly year-long trade war, are likely to cheer the truce. Washington and Beijing have slapped tariffs on billions of dollars of each other’s imports, stoking fears of a wider global trade war. Those tariffs remain in place while negotiations resume.

“We’re right back on track,” Trump told reporters after an 80-minute meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping at a summit of leaders of the Group of 20 (G20) major economies in Osaka, Japan.

“We’re holding back on tariffs and they’re going to buy farm products,” Trump said, without giving details about the purchases.

Trump tweeted hours later that the meeting with Xi went “far better than expected.”

“The quality of the transaction is far more important to me than speed,” he tweeted. “I am in no hurry, but things look very good!”

The U.S. president had threatened to slap new levies on roughly $300 billion of additional Chinese goods, including popular consumer products if the meeting in Japan proved unsuccessful. Such a move would have extended existing tariffs to almost all Chinese imports into the United States.

In a lengthy statement on the two-way talks, China’s foreign ministry quoted Xi as telling Trump he hoped the United States could treat Chinese companies fairly.

“China is sincere about continuing negotiations with the United States … but negotiations should be equal and show mutual respect,” the foreign ministry quoted Xi as saying.

Trump offered an olive branch to Xi on Huawei Technologies Co [HWT.UL], the world’s biggest telecom network gear maker. The Trump administration has said the Chinese firm is too close to China’s government and poses a national security risk, and has lobbied U.S. allies to keep Huawei out of next-generation 5G telecommunications infrastructure.

Trump’s Commerce Department has put Huawei on its “entity list,” effectively banning the company from buying parts and components from U.S. companies without U.S. government approval.

But Trump said on Saturday he did not think that was fair to U.S. suppliers, who were upset by the move. “We’re allowing that, because that wasn’t national security,” he said.

CHEERS FROM CHIP MAKERS

Trump said the U.S. Commerce Department would study in the next few days whether to take Huawei off the list of firms banned from buying components and technology from U.S. companies without government approval.

China welcomed the step.

“If the U.S. does what it says, then of course, we welcome it,” said Wang Xiaolong, the Chinese foreign ministry’s envoy for G20 affairs.

U.S. microchip makers also applauded the move.

“We are encouraged the talks are restarting and additional tariffs are on hold and we look forward to getting more detail on the president’s remarks on Huawei,” John Neuffer, president of the U.S. Semiconductor Association, said in a statement.

Republican U.S. Senator Marco Rubio, however, tweeted that any agreement to reverse the recent U.S. action against Huawei would be a “catastrophic mistake” and that legislation would be needed to put the restrictions back in place if that turned out to be the case.

Last month, Rubio and Democratic U.S. Senator Mark Warner urged Trump to not use Huawei as a bargaining chip for trade negotiations.

Huawei has come under mounting scrutiny for over a year, led by U.S. allegations that “back doors” in its routers, switches and other gear could allow China to spy on U.S. communications.

The company has denied its products pose a security threat. It declined to comment on the developments on Saturday.

The problems at Huawei have filtered across to the broader chip industry, with Broadcom Inc warning of a broad slowdown in demand and cutting its revenue forecast.

Trump said he and Xi did not discuss the extradition proceedings against Meng Wanzhou, Huawei’s chief financial officer, who was arrested in Canada in December on charges alleging she misled global banks about Huawei’s relationship with a company in Iran.

RELIEF AND SCEPTICISM

Scores of Asia specialists, including former U.S. diplomats and military officers, urged Trump to rethink policies that “treat China as an enemy,” warning that approach could hurt U.S. interests and the global economy, according to a draft open letter reviewed by Reuters on Saturday.

Investors, businesses and financial leaders have for months been warning that an intractable tit-for-tat tariff war between the United States and China could damage global supply chains and push the world economy over a cliff.

International Monetary Fund Managing Director Christine Lagarde on Saturday urged G20 policymakers to reduce tariffs and other obstacles to trade, warning that the global economy had hit a “rough patch” due to the trade conflict.

Although analysts cheered a resumption of talks between Washington and Beijing, some questioned whether the two sides would be able to build enough momentum to breach the divide and forge a lasting deal.

“Translating this truce into a durable easing of trade tensions is far from automatic … especially as what’s in play now extends well beyond economics to include delicate national security issues of both immediate- and longer-term nature,” said Mohamed El-Erian, chief economic adviser at Allianz.

The United States says China has been stealing American intellectual property for years, forces U.S. firms to share trade secrets as a condition for doing business in China, and subsidizes state-owned firms to dominate industries.

China has said the United States is making unreasonable demands and must also make concessions.

The negotiations hit an impasse in May after Washington accused Beijing of reneging on reform pledges made during months of talks. Trump raised tariffs to 25% from 10% on $200 billion of Chinese goods, and China retaliated by raising levies on a list of U.S. imports.

(Reporting by Roberta Rampton, Michael Martina and Chris Gallagher in Osaka; Additional reporting by Koh Gui Qing in New York, Ben Blanchard in Beijing and Leika Kihara in Osaka and Jennifer Ablan in New York; Writing by Linda Sieg, Malcolm Foster, Jeff Mason and Paul Simao; Editing by Clarence Fernandez, Himani Sarkar)

U.S. aims to restart China trade talks, will not accept conditions on tariff use

By Jeff Mason

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The United States hopes to re-launch trade talks with China after President Donald Trump and President Xi Jinping meet in Japan on Saturday, but Washington will not accept any conditions around the U.S. use of tariffs in the dispute, a senior administration official said on Tuesday.

Trump has threatened to impose tariffs on another $325 billion of goods, covering nearly all the remaining Chinese imports into the United States – including consumer products such as cellphones, computers and clothing – if the meeting with Xi produces no progress in resolving a host of U.S. complaints around the way China does business.

The two sides could agree not to impose new tariffs as a goodwill gesture to get negotiations going, the official said, but he said it was unclear if that would happen.

The United States was not willing to come to the Xi meeting with concessions, said the official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity. Washington wants Beijing to come back the table with the promises it withdrew before talks broke down, he said.

China has shown no softening in its position and said on Monday that both sides should make compromises in the trade talks and that a trade deal has to be beneficial for both countries.

The back-and-forth set up what could prove to be a tricky meeting between Trump and Xi at the Group of 20 summit meeting in Osaka. The session will be the first time they have met since trade talks between the world’s two largest economies broke down in May, when the United States accused China of reneging on reform pledges it made.

Chinese Vice Premier Liu He, who has led trade talks for Beijing, held a phone conversation with his counterparts, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, on Monday, according to China’s Ministry of Commerce. The three men are helping to pave the way for talks between the leaders later this week.

Expectations for that meeting so far appear to be low. The best-case scenario would be a resumption of official talks, which could ease fears in financial markets that the already long trade dispute might continue indefinitely. The fears have pummeled global markets and hurt the world economy.

Trump advisers have said no trade deal is expected at the meeting but they hope to create a path forward for talks. Once negotiations resume, they could take months or even years to complete, the senior Trump administration official said, with some parts agreed early and others needing more time.

A resumption of negotiations could put that threat of further tariffs on hold, at least for now.

But if Trump sees no progress and decides to raise tariffs, the relationship between the world’s two largest economies would deteriorate further.

“I think if they go with the tariffs, the trade talks are dead. Period,” said one person familiar with the talks.

The United States has made clear it wants China to go back to the position it held in a draft trade agreement that was nearly completed before Beijing balked at some of its terms, particularly requirements to change its laws on key issues.

Beijing wants the United States to lift tariffs, while Washington wants China to change a series of practices including on intellectual property and requirements that U.S. companies share their technology with Chinese companies in order to do business there.

As part of the trade war, Washington has already imposed 25% tariffs on $250 billion of Chinese goods, ranging from semi-conductors to furniture, that are imported to the United States.

PRESSURE BUILDING

The president has spoken optimistically about the chances of a deal.

The administration official said rounds of meetings between top trade officials from both countries likely would begin again after the G20 summit. He noted that although the vice premier still led China’s trade delegation, new names had been added to the list who could be hard-liners.

The official said Trump and Xi were unlikely to get into the fine details of the draft trade pact, although the case of Chinese tech giant Huawei Technologies Co may come up during talks.

Pressure on Huawei, which the U.S. government has labeled a security threat, has increased in recent days.

About a dozen rural U.S. telecom carriers that depend on Huawei for network gear are in discussions with its biggest rivals, Ericsson and Nokia, to replace their Chinese equipment, sources familiar with the matter said.

And the U.S.-based research arm of Huawei, Futurewei Technologies Inc, has moved to separate its operations from its corporate parent since the U.S government in May put Huawei on a trade blacklist, according to two people familiar with the matter.

Trump has indicated a willingness to include the Huawei issue in a trade deal, despite the national security implications cited by his advisers about the company. Meanwhile, U.S. parcel delivery firm FedEx Corp on Monday sued the U.S. government, saying it should not be held liable if it inadvertently shipped products that violated a Trump administration ban on exports to some Chinese companies.

The move came after FedEx reignited Chinese ire over its business practices when a package containing a Huawei phone sent to the United States was returned last week to its sender in Britain, in what FedEx said was an “operational error.”

(Reporting by Jeff Mason; additional reporting by Alexandra Alper, Jane Lanhee Lee, Tarmo Vikri, Andrew Galbraith and Angela Moon; editing by Simon Webb and Cynthia Osterman)

S&P 500 hits all-time high on trade optimism

FILE PHOTO: Traders work on the main trading floor after the opening bell at New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York, U.S. June 20, 2019. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid/File Photo

By Amy Caren Daniel and Shreyashi Sanyal

(Reuters) – The S&P 500 touched a record high for the second straight session on Friday as hopes of trade talks between Washington and Beijing were lifted by U.S. Vice President Mike Pence’s decision to defer a planned speech on China policy.

The decision was taken amid “positive signs” that trade talks with China could be back on track, the Wall Street Journal reported, citing a senior administration official.

The benchmark S&P 500 index hit an intraday high of 2,964.15 on Friday, but retreated into a tight range as rising tensions between the United States and Iran kept investors on edge.

The United States and China have said they would restart their trade talks after a lull at the Group of 20 summit in Japan next week.

“Investors are cautiously optimistic about the G20 summit. If they make progress then markets will celebrate that,” said Michael Antonelli, market strategist at Robert W. Baird in Milwaukee.

Stocks are now set to log their third straight week of gains, after posting their worst monthly performance this year in May on fears the prolonged trade war would hit global economic growth.

U.S. President Donald Trump said on Friday he aborted a military strike on Iran in response to Teheran downing a U.S. drone, but the possibility of a U.S. retaliation pushed crude prices higher and helped lift the energy sector by 0.49%. [O/R]

Traders also pointed to higher volatility during Friday’s session on account of “quadruple witching,” as investors unwind interests in futures and options contracts prior to expiration.

At 13:09 p.m. ET, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 45.72 points, or 0.17%, at 26,798.89 and the S&P 500 was down 0.53 points, or 0.02%, at 2,953.65.

The Nasdaq Composite was down 7.13 points, or 0.09%, at 8,044.21.

The tech-heavy index was weighed down by a 2.02% fall in PayPal Holdings Inc after the digital payments company said its chief operating officer Bill Ready would step down.

CarMax Inc rose as much as 6% to a record high after the used-vehicles retailer posted quarterly results above analysts’ expectations.

Carnival Corp fell for the second day, down 4.53%, and among the biggest decliners. Several brokerages trimmed their price targets after the cruise operator cut its 2019 profit forecast.

Declining issues outnumbered advancers for a 1.47-to-1 ratio on the NYSE and for a 1.71-to-1 ratio on the Nasdaq.

The S&P index recorded 33 new 52-week highs and two new lows, while the Nasdaq recorded 42 new highs and 49 new lows.

(Reporting by Amy Caren Daniel and Shreyashi Sanyal in Bengaluru; Editing by Sriraj Kalluvila)

U.S., China bicker over ‘extravagant expectations’ on trade deal

A surveillance camera is seen next to containers at a logistics center near Tianjin Port, in northern China, May 16, 2019. REUTERS/Jason Lee

By Ben Blanchard and David Lawder

BEIJING/WASHINGTON (Reuters) – China accused the United States on Monday of harboring “extravagant expectations” for a trade deal, underlining the gulf between the two sides as U.S. action against China’s technology giant Huawei began hitting the global tech sector.

Adding to bilateral tension, the U.S. military said one of its warships sailed near the disputed Scarborough Shoal claimed by China in the South China Sea on Sunday, the latest in a series of “freedom of navigation operations” to anger Beijing.

Alphabet Inc’s Google has also suspended business with China’s Huawei Technologies Co Ltd that requires the transfer of hardware, software and technical services, except those publicly available via open source licensing, a source familiar with the matter told Reuters on Sunday, in a blow to the company that the U.S. government has sought to blacklist around the world.

Shares in European chipmakers Infineon Technologies, AMS and STMicroelectronics fell sharply on Monday amid worries the Huawei suppliers may suspend shipments to the Chinese firm due to the U.S. blacklisting of it last week.

The Trump administration’s addition of Huawei to a trade blacklist on Thursday immediately enacted restrictions that will make it extremely difficult for it to do business with U.S. counterparts.

In an interview with Fox News Channel recorded last week and aired on Sunday night, Trump said the United States and China “had a very strong deal, we had a good deal, and they changed it. And I said ‘that’s OK, we’re going to tariff their products’.”

In Beijing, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang said he didn’t know what Trump was talking about.

“We don’t know what this agreement is the United States is talking about. Perhaps the United States has an agreement they all along had extravagant expectations for, but it’s certainly not a so-called agreement that China agreed to,” he told a daily news briefing.

The reason the last round of China-U.S. talks did not reach an agreement is because the United States tried “to achieve unreasonable interests through extreme pressure”, Lu said.”From the start, this wouldn’t work.”

China went into the last round of talks with a sincere and constructive attitude, he said.

“I would like to reiterate once again that China-U.S. economic and trade consultation can only follow the correct track of mutual respect, equality and mutual benefit for there to be hope of success.”

No further trade talks between top Chinese and U.S. trade negotiators have been scheduled since the last round ended on May 10 – the same day Trump raised the tariff rate on $200 billion worth of Chinese products from 10 percent.

Trump took the step after the United States said China backtracked on commitments in a draft deal that had been largely agreed to.

STERNER TONE

Since then, China has struck a sterner tone, suggesting that a resumption of talks aimed at ending the 10-month trade war between the world’s two largest economies was unlikely to happen soon.

Beijing has said it will take “necessary measures” to defend the rights of Chinese companies but has not said whether or how it will retaliate over the U.S. actions against Huawei.

The editor of the Global Times, an influential tabloid run by the ruling Communist Party’s People’s Daily, tweeted on Monday that he had switched to a Huawei phone, although he said his decision did not mean that he thinks it is right to boycott Apple and said he was not throwing away his iPhone.

“While the U.S. spares no efforts to subdue Huawei, out of personal belief, I chose to support the well-respected company by using its product,” Hu Xijin tweeted.

Trump, who said the interview with Fox News host Steve Hilton had taken place two days after he raised the tariffs, said he would be happy to simply keep tariffs on Chinese products, but said that he believed that China would eventually make a deal with the United States “because they’re getting killed with the tariffs”.

But he said that he had told Chinese President Xi Jinping before the most recent rounds of talks that any deal could not be “50-50” between the two countries and had to be more in favor of the United States because of past trade practices by China.

(Reporting by David Lawder and Ben Blanchard; Writing by Tony Munroe; Editing by Richard Borsuk, Robert Birsel and Nick Macfie)

China to impose tariffs on U.S. goods despite Trump warning

U.S. President Donald Trump and China's President Xi Jinping meet business leaders at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China, November 9, 2017. REUTERS/Damir Sagolj/File Photo - RC1E974F0B70

By Makini Brice and Ben Blanchard

WASHINGTON/BEIJING (Reuters) – China said on Monday it would impose higher tariffs on a range of U.S. goods, striking back in its trade war with Washington shortly after U.S. President Donald Trump warned it not to retaliate.

China’s finance ministry said it plans to set import tariffs ranging from 5 percent to 25 percent on 5,140 U.S. products on a target list worth about $60 billion. It said the tariffs will take effect on June 1.

The announcement came less than two hours after Trump warned Beijing not to retaliate after China said it “will never surrender to external pressure.”

The White House and U.S. Trade Representative’s office did not immediately return a request for comment.

Global equities fell sharply on Monday as hopes of an imminent trade deal between the world’s two largest economies were crushed. Major U.S. stock index futures were down about 2 percent. [MKTS/GLOB]

The trade war escalated on Friday after Trump hiked tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese goods, saying China had reneged on earlier commitments made during months of trade negotiations.

Beijing had vowed to respond to the latest U.S. tariffs. “As for the details, please continue to pay attention. Copying a U.S. expression – wait and see,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang told a daily news briefing on Monday.

Trump warned China not to intensify the trade dispute and urged its leaders, including President Xi Jinping, to continue to work to reach a deal. “China should not retaliate-will only get worse,” he said on Twitter.

“I say openly to President Xi & all of my many friends in China that China will be hurt very badly if you don’t make a deal because companies will be forced to leave China for other countries,” Trump wrote.

STEADY DRUM BEAT

Trump last week also ordered U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer to begin imposing tariffs on all remaining imports from China, a move that would affect an additional $300 billion worth of goods.

Asked about the threat, Geng said: “We have said many times that adding tariffs won’t resolve any problem … We have the confidence and the ability to protect our lawful and legitimate rights.”

Chinese state media kept up a steady drumbeat of strongly worded commentary on Monday, reiterating that China’s door to talks was always open, but vowing to defend the country’s interests and dignity.

In a commentary, state television said the effect on the Chinese economy from the U.S. tariffs was “totally controllable.”

“It’s no big deal. China is bound to turn crisis to opportunity and use this to test its abilities, to make the country even stronger.”

Before high-level talks last week in Washington, China tried to delete commitments from a draft agreement that Chinese laws would be changed to enact new policies on issues from intellectual property protection to forced technology transfers. That dealt a major setback to negotiations.

Trump has since defended the U.S. tariff hike and said he was in “absolutely no rush” to finalize a deal.

Top White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow said on Sunday there was a “strong possibility” Trump will meet China’s Xi at a G20 summit in Japan in late June.

(Reporting by Ben Blanchard; Additional reporting by Makini Brice in Washington; Writing by Michael Martina; Editing by Darren Schuettler, Jeffrey Benkoe and Paul Simao)

Wall Street plunges on heightening U.S.-China trade worries

By Amy Caren Daniel

(Reuters) – Wall Street’s main indexes tumbled more than 1 percent on Tuesday, as renewed worries over trade negotiations with China stoked global growth worries and kept investors away from risky assets.

Beijing said on Tuesday that Chinese Vice Premier Liu He will visit the United States this week for trade talks, playing down U.S. President Donald Trump’s unexpected threat on Sunday that he would raise tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese goods to 25 percent from 10 percent.

Trade tensions also pushed U.S. treasury yields lower as investors turned to low-risk government bonds, pressuring interest rate sensitive banking stocks, which fell 1.69%. [US/]

“Many had been looking at this week as providing a potential breakthrough in talks between the world’s two largest economies, yet we instead have seen the U.S. threaten a raft of new tariffs,” Joshua Mahony, senior market analyst at IG, wrote in a note.

“Much of the gains of the eventual deal have been factored into market valuations and thus there is a substantial risk that markets could jolt lower if the direction of talks shift towards more, rather than less barriers to trade.”

Boeing Co, the single largest U.S. exporter to China, slipped 2.7% and Caterpillar Inc declined 1.9%.

All the major S&P sectors were trading in the red, with technology companies posting the steepest decline of 2%.

The CBOE Volatility Index, a gauge of investor anxiety, spiked to its higher level in over three months.

At 10:55 a.m. ET the Dow Jones Industrial Average was down 355.41 points, or 1.34%, at 26,083.07. The S&P 500 was down 42.23 points, or 1.44%, at 2,890.24 and the Nasdaq Composite was down 138.67 points, or 1.71%, at 7,984.62.

Marquee names including Microsoft Corp, Apple Inc, Amazon.com Inc and Facebook Inc fell more than 1.7% and weighed on markets.

The earnings season has now reached its homestretch. Of the 414 S&P companies that have reported earnings so far, about 75% have surpassed analysts’ estimates, according to Refinitiv data.

The upbeat reports have turned around earnings estimates for the first quarter to an almost 1.2% rise, a sharp improvement from the 2.3% decline expected at the start of the earnings season.

American International Group Inc jumped 6.7%, the most among S&P companies, after the insurer reported a quarterly profit that blew past expectations.

Among decliners, Mylan NV tumbled 17% after the drugmaker missed Wall Street estimates for quarterly revenue, hurt partly by manufacturing problems at its Morgantown plant in West Virginia.

Shares of Regeneron Pharmaceuticals Inc fell 5% after the drugmaker missed quarterly profit estimates.

Declining issues outnumbered advancers for a 4.26-to-1 ratio on the NYSE and for a 2.95-to-1 ratio on the Nasdaq.

The S&P index recorded four new 52-week highs and four new lows, while the Nasdaq recorded 37 new highs and 22 new lows.

(Reporting by Amy Caren Daniel and Shreyashi Sanyal in Bengaluru; Editing by Shounak Dasgupta and Arun Koyyur)

China trade team still plans on U.S. talks as Trump vows to raise tariffs

FILE PHOTO: Chinese and U.S. flags are set up for a meeting during a visit by U.S. Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao at China's Ministry of Transport in Beijing, China April 27, 2018. Picture taken April 27, 2018. REUTERS/Jason Lee/File Photo

By Ben Blanchard and Jeff Mason

BEIJING/WASHINGTON (Reuters) – China said on Monday that a delegation was still preparing to go to the United States for trade talks, even as U.S. President Donald Trump dramatically increased pressure on Beijing to reach a deal, saying he would hike tariffs on Chinese goods this week.

Trump’s comments on Sunday marked a major escalation in tensions between the world’s two largest economies, and a shift in tone from the president, who as recently as Friday had cited progress toward a deal.

Stock markets sank and oil prices tumbled on his remarks, as negotiations to end the months-long trade war were thrown into doubt.

“We are also in the process of understanding the relevant situation. What I can tell you is that China’s team is preparing to go to the United States for the discussions,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang told a news briefing.

But Geng did not say if Vice Premier Liu He, who is China’s lead official in the negotiations, will be part of the delegation as originally planned. Negotiations are set to start May 8 in Washington.

“What is of vital importance is that we still hope the United States can work hard with China to meet each other halfway, and strive to reach a mutually beneficial, win-win agreement on the basis of mutual respect,” Geng said.

The Wall Street Journal reported earlier that China was considering canceling this week’s meetings in Washington in light of Trump’s comments, which took Chinese officials by surprise.

Trump appeared to defend his decision in a tweet early Monday, slamming the U.S.-China trade deficit and vowing not to lose out to Beijing.

A less-than-rosy update from U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, including details that China was pulling back from some previous commitments, prompted Trump’s weekend decision.

“The Trade Deal with China continues, but too slowly, as they attempt to renegotiate. No!” Trump said in a tweet.

Trump said tariffs on $200 billion of goods would increase on Friday to 25 percent from 10 percent, reversing a decision he made in February to keep them at 10 percent due to progress between the two sides.

The president also said he would target a further $325 billion of Chinese goods with 25 percent tariffs “shortly,” essentially covering all products imported to the United States from China.

‘ATMOSPHERE HAS CHANGED’

U.S. officials did not weigh in on whether they expected talks to go ahead this week. The White House and the U.S. Trade Representative’s Office declined to comment. China’s commerce ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

“The atmosphere of the negotiations has changed,” said a Chinese official with knowledge of the situation.

Whether and how the talks proceed are being re-evaluated, the official told Reuters on condition of anonymity.

“All that depends on the attitude of the United States,” the official said.

Chinese news outlets have been told not to independently report on Trump’s tweets, and instead adhere to any report from the official Xinhua news agency, said a source with direct knowledge of the matter.

Global financial markets, which had been expecting news of a trade deal soon, went into a tailspin. U.S. equity futures fell more than 2 percent and stocks across trade-reliant Asia tumbled. China’s main indexes slid 5 percent.

“There is still a question of whether this is one of the famous Trump negotiation tactics, or are we really going to see some drastic increase in tariffs,” said Nick Twidale, Sydney-based analyst at Rakuten Securities Australia. “If it’s the latter, we’ll see massive downside pressure across all markets.”

Mindful of his 2020 re-election bid, Trump had also suggested the duties were not leading to price increases for U.S. consumers. “The Tariffs paid to the USA have had little impact on product cost, mostly borne by China,” he tweeted.

Tariffs on Chinese goods are actually paid to the United States by companies that import the goods, and most of those companies are U.S.-based. American businesses, while supportive of Trump’s crackdown on China’s trade practices, are eager for the tariffs to be removed, not expanded.

“Raising tariffs means raising taxes on millions of American families and inviting further retaliation on American farmers,” said Christin Fernandez, a spokeswoman for the Retail Industry Leaders Association.

‘HANG TOUGH’

Nevertheless, the president’s aggressive strategy drew rare bipartisan support from U.S. Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer, who urged Trump to “hang tough” in a tweet: “Don’t back down. Strength is the only way to win with China.”

One Chinese trade expert said recent signs of resilience in both economies were breeding over-confidence.

“The urgency is gone. So, it’s likely to see a longer trade war,” the expert said, speaking on condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity of the topic.

The trade war resulted in billions of dollars in losses for both sides in 2018, hitting autos, technology and above all, agriculture, while inflicting collateral damage on export-reliant economies and companies from Japan to Germany.

On Friday, Trump said talks with China were going well.

Last week, industry sources said they believed the talks were in the end game, but a Trump administration official said aides had told the president that significant hurdles remained.

The increase in U.S. tariffs on Friday would be the first since Trump imposed 10 percent tariffs on $200 billion of Chinese goods in September, coming on top of 25 percent tariffs on $50 billion of goods enacted earlier last year.

Negotiations about tariffs have been one of the remaining sticking points between the two sides. China wants the tariffs to be removed, while Trump wants to keep some, if not all, as part of any final deal to ensure China lives up to its commitments, a White House official said on Sunday.

(Reporting by Jeff Mason, David Shepardson, Timothy Gardner, Lawrence Hurley and Makini Brice in Washington; Sinead Carew in New York; and Ben Blanchard, Michael Martina, Shu Zhang, Jing Xu, Cheng Leng and Yawen Chen in Beijing; Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore and Jeffrey Benkoe)