China offers to ramp up US imports: Report

Container vessels are loaded with cargo at the Port of Qingdao, in eastern China's Shandong province.
Container vessels are loaded with cargo at the Port of Qingdao, in eastern China's Shandong province. PHOTO: EPA-EFE

BEIJING (REUTERS) - China has offered to go on a six-year buying spree to ramp up imports from the United States in order to reconfigure the relation between the two countries, Bloomberg reported on Friday (Jan 18), citing people familiar with the matter.

By raising annual goods imports from the United States by a combined value of more than US$1 trillion (S$1.3 trillion), China would seek to reduce its trade surplus, which last year stood at US$323 billion, to zero by 2024, one of the people told Bloomberg.

If US President Donald Trump is re-elected next year, the trade gap would close by the end of his second term.

Halfway through a 90-day truce in the US-China trade war agreed to on Dec 1 when Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping met at the Group of 20 summit in Argentina, there have been few details provided of any progress made.

Data on Monday showed China's exports unexpectedly fell the most in two years in December and imports also contracted, pointing to further weakness in the world's second-largest economy in 2019 and deteriorating global demand.

The Wall Street Journal reported on Thursday that US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin discussed lifting some or all tariffs imposed on Chinese imports and suggested offering a tariff rollback during trade discussions scheduled for Jan 30.

But Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer has resisted the idea, and the proposal had not yet been introduced to Trump, according to the Journal.

Chinese Vice-Premier Liu He will visit the United States on Jan 30 and 31 for the latest round of trade talks aimed at resolving the bitter trade dispute between the world's two largest economies.

The Trump administration is scheduled to increase tariffs on US$200 billion worth of Chinese goods to 25 per cent on March 2 from 10 per cent.

The Trump administration has urged China to take steps to protect US intellectual property, end policies that force American companies to turn over technology to a Chinese partner, allow more market access for US businesses and reduce other non-tariff barriers to American products.

China has repeatedly played down complaints about intellectual property abuses, and has rejected accusations that foreign companies face forced technology transfers.

Wall Street's main indexes were on track for their fourth week of gains on Friday, led by technology and industrial stocks, amid hopes that the US-China traded war would finally come to an end.