US, Chinese commerce chiefs raise complaints on trade, investment, export policies

US Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo and Chinese Commerce Minister Wang Wentao traded barbs on trade, investment and export policies. PHOTOS: REUTERS

DETROIT - US Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo and Chinese Commerce Minister Wang Wentao exchanged barbs on trade, investment and export policies in talks on Thursday described by Ms Raimondo’s office as “candid and substantive”.

Their meeting in Washington was the first US-China Cabinet-level exchange in months, after a string of trade and national security irritants derailed plans for re-engagement between the world’s two largest economies.

“The two had candid and substantive discussions on issues relating to the US-China commercial relationship, including the overall environment in both countries for trade and investment and areas for potential cooperation,” the US Commerce Department said in a statement.

“Secretary Raimondo also raised concerns about the recent spate of PRC (People’s Republic of China) actions taken against US companies operating in the PRC,” it added.

Mr Wang raised key concerns about United States policies towards China, including on semiconductors, export controls and reviews of foreign investments, a Chinese Commerce Ministry statement said.

Both sides agreed to establish and maintain open communication channels, with Ms Raimondo’s office saying that would help “responsibly manage the relationship”.

China’s Commerce Ministry said the communications would allow exchanges on specific economic trade concerns and cooperation matters.

Mr Wang is also expected to meet US Trade Representative Katherine Tai on the sidelines of an Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation trade ministers’ meeting in Detroit that wraps up on Friday.

US President Joe Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping pledged more frequent communication at a Group of 20 summit in Indonesia last November to avoid US-China tensions from spilling into a new Cold War.

But those plans suffered several setbacks, starting with the downing of an alleged Chinese spy balloon in US coastal waters.

These irritants continued through on Sunday, when Group of Seven (G-7) leaders pledged to resist China’s “economic coercion” and Beijing responded by declaring US memory chipmaker Micron Technology a national security risk, banning its sales to key domestic industries.

The ban followed a series of raids on American consultancies in China.

On Monday, Mr Wang met representatives of American companies in Shanghai, including Johnson & Johnson, 3M, Dow, Merck and Honeywell, according to China’s Commerce Ministry, telling them that “China will continue to welcome US-funded enterprises to develop in China and achieve win-win results”.

China has complained about the growing number of US export restrictions on advanced semiconductors and high technology goods that could have military applications and security reviews that discourage Chinese investment in the US.

Mr Wang’s trip to the US comes after Group of Seven (G-7) leaders met in Hiroshima, Japan, at which Mr Biden and other G-7 leaders said they would “de-risk” without “decoupling” from the world’s second-largest economy in everything from chips to minerals.

Ms Raimondo, Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen have all expressed interest in visiting China. REUTERS

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