US Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross to visit China for trade talks in early June

United States Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross will visit China for another round of talks amid ongoing trade frictions between the world's two largest economies.
United States Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross will visit China for another round of talks amid ongoing trade frictions between the world's two largest economies.PHOTO: AFP

BEIJING (REUTERS) - United States Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross will visit China early next month for another round of talks amid ongoing trade frictions between the world's two largest economies.

Ross will visit China from June 2 to June 4, the official Xinhua news agency reported on Friday (May 25), adding that Vice Premier Liu He, China's chief negotiator in the trade dispute, had spoken with Ross over the phone. It gave no further details.

The trade dispute took on added complexity this week when US President Donald Trump announced a national security investigation into imports of cars and trucks, a probe that could lead to tariffs against China as well as key US allies such as Canada, Mexico, Japan and Germany.

US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told CNBC on Monday that Ross is aiming to negotiate "a framework" that could then turn into "binding agreements ... between companies."

In the last round of talks in Washington in mid-May, China agreed to ramp up purchases of US agriculture and energy products, and the two sides worked towards a possible reprieve for ZTE Corp from a US ban on American companies supplying the Chinese maker of telecoms equipment.

The developments and constructive comments from both sides eased fears that the US and China could plunge into a trade war, but President Donald Trump said this week that any deal would need "a different structure," fuelling uncertainty over the negotiations.

Trump has threatened to impose tariffs on up to US$150 billion (S$201 billion) of Chinese goods to combat what he says is Beijing's misappropriation of US technology through joint venture requirements and other policies.

Beijing has threatened equal retaliation, including tariffs on some of its largest US imports, including aircraft, soybeans and autos.