US should lift trade restrictions on China, says Li Keqiang

Trade between the US and China had the potential to grow much larger if Washington would relax trade restrictions, Mr Li said. PHOTO: EPA-EFE

BEIJING - Trade between the United States and China has the potential to grow much larger if Washington would relax trade restrictions imposed on Beijing, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang said on Friday (March 11), as he urged both sides to work together.

Pointing to two-way trade volume, Mr Li said this reached US$750 billion (S$1.02 trillion) last year, up 30 per cent from the year before.

"What does this show us? The areas of China-US cooperation are wide and have great potential. If the US eases export restrictions on China, this bilateral trade volume will be even bigger and benefit both countries and their peoples," said Mr Li.

He was speaking at a press conference held after the end of China's annual legislative sessions or the lianghui.

Ties between the US and China have remained tense since US President Joe Biden took office last year. He has been gathering coalitions of allies to counter China's rising influence.

On trade, Mr Biden has not lifted the trade tariffs imposed by his predecessor on US$370 billion worth of Chinese products.

Also in place are bans on the export to China of sensitive technology such as semiconductors.

Mr Li told reporters that while disagreements between both sides were "unavoidable", cooperation should be the "mainstream".

"Even if we have competition in the field of economics and trade, this should be healthy and fair competition," he said.

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