US commerce secretary Wilbur Ross plans to lead trade mission to China in November

US Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross (left) speaks with Chinese Premier Li Keqiang (right) during their meeting at the Zhongnanhai state guesthouse in Beijing, on Sept 25, 2017.
US Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross (left) speaks with Chinese Premier Li Keqiang (right) during their meeting at the Zhongnanhai state guesthouse in Beijing, on Sept 25, 2017. PHOTO: AFP

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

Premier Li Keqiang and other top officials met Mr Ross on Monday (Sept 25) to prepare for President Donald Trump's planned visit to Asia later this fall, 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 U.S. 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 Sept 24-29 trip to Asia that will also include visits to Hong Kong, Bangkok and Vientiane, Laos. Mr Ross also met with China's Vice Premier Wang Yang and Liu He, a key financial and economic adviser to President Xi Jinping, according to the statement.

The visit comes as the US 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.

China on Friday (Sept 22) announced 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 (Sept 25) in brief comments to reporters before the meeting.

Mr Li said he hoped the US would be fair on 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.