Ross raises trade deficit issue on China leg of trip

US Commerce Secretary meets Premier Li, top officials ahead of Trump's visit to Asia

BEIJING • US Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross told leaders in Beijing that he plans to lead a senior-level trade mission to China in November and again backed efforts to reduce the trade imbalance.

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang and other top officials met Mr Ross on Monday to prepare for President Donald Trump's planned visit to Asia later in autumn, the Commerce Department said in a statement.

Mr Ross stressed his intent to cut the US trade deficit with the world's largest exporter with "increased exports of high-value US goods and services to China and improved market access", the Commerce Department said in a statement.

He also engaged on investment, intellectual property, tariffs and reciprocal treatment for American companies.

Chinese officials stressed the importance of dialogue when it comes to unilateral action and said Beijing would have to respond in kind to any potential US action. Both sides said trade frictions should be resolved through negotiation.

Beijing is Mr Ross' first stop on a trip to Asia from Sunday to Friday that also includes visits to Hong Kong, Bangkok and Vientiane, Laos.

Chinese officials stressed the importance of dialogue when it comes to unilateral action and said Beijing would have to respond in kind to any potential US action.

Mr Ross also met Chinese Vice-Premier Wang Yang and Mr Liu He, a key financial and economic adviser to President Xi Jinping, according to the statement.

The visit comes as the United States increases calls to reduce the trade deficit with the world's biggest exporting nation and as threats of North Korea's nuclear progress continue to simmer.

Earlier this month, Mr Ross announced a probe into China's stainless steel flanges for alleged unfair subsidies, the latest move after the US Trade Representative began an investigation into China's intellectual property practices.

Last Friday, China announced that it would restrict some oil product exports to North Korea, as Mr Trump seeks to further isolate Mr Kim Jong Un's regime.

China hopes the countries can improve economic and trade ties and that their common interests outweigh their differences, Mr Li told Mr Ross on Monday in brief comments to reporters before the meeting.

Mr Li said he hoped the US would be fair to Chinese investments and would loosen high-tech exports to China, according to a China Central Television report.

Mr Trump rejected a China-led takeover of US chipmaker Lattice Semiconductor Corp earlier this month on national security grounds, clouding the outlook for other Chinese deals seeking clearance.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 27, 2017, with the headline 'Ross raises trade deficit issue on China leg of trip'. Print Edition | Subscribe