China says willing to meet US over trade issues on equal footing

Signs with the US flag and Chinese flag are seen outside a store selling foreign goods in Qingdao, Shandong, on Sept 19, 2018. PHOTO: AFP

SHANGHAI - China is willing to resolve trade disputes with the United States through talks that are based on mutual respect, integrity and equal footing, said one of the country's top commerce officials.

Beijing will jointly promote the healthy and stable development of Sino-US relations, said Vice-Commerce Minster Wang Bingnan on Saturday (Nov 3) at a news conference ahead of the inaugural China International Import Fair (CIIE) in Shanghai.

Billed as the "first-ever" global trade fair that is solely focused on imports, it marks China's commitment to promote "a new round of opening up" to the outside world, said Mr Wang.

When asked about the impact of the fair on the trade war between China and the US, and the trade relations between them, Mr Wang told reporters that American companies have responded positively to the fair.

He noted that nearly 180 American companies are participating in the expo, making them the third largest group among the 81 participating countries.

"This fully demonstrates the attractiveness of China's market and this import fair to American companies," he said.

Mr Wang added that China is "willing to expand imports from all over the world including the US."

"We also hope that Chinese and American companies can make full use of the platform of the import fair to promote the complementary economic advantages of the two countries to achieve mutual benefit and win-win results."

The world's two largest economies have been locked in a trade war, with the US imposing tariffs on US$250 billion (S$344 billion) worth of Chinese goods and China retaliating with tariffs on US$110 billion worth of American imports.

On Friday, US President Donald Trump said he will likely make a deal with China on trade, and a lot of progress had been made to resolve the two countries' differences.

"If we can open up China and make it fair, for the first time ever - this should have been done years ago by other presidents but it wasn't - I am very much willing to do it. But China very much wants to make a deal," he told reporters in Washington.

But he also warned that if a deal is not made with China, he could impose tariffs on another US$267 billion in Chinese imports into the US.

Mr Trump and Mr Xi will be meeting at the Group of 20 leaders summit in Argentina later this month and both leaders are expected to discuss trade issues over dinner.

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