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Trump admin pressing China to cut trade surplus by $100 bn: White House

China reported its 2017 US trade surplus as $276 billion, also about two thirds of its reported global surplus of $422.5 billion

Reuters  |  Washington 

White House, US Capitol
Photo: PTI

The is pressing to cut its trade surplus with the by $100 billion, a spokeswoman said on Wednesday, clarifying a tweet last week from President

Last Wednesday, Trump tweeted that had been asked to develop a plan to reduce its trade imbalance with the by $1 billion, but the spokeswoman said Trump had meant to say $100 billion.

The had a record $375 billion trade deficit with in 2017, which made up two thirds of a global $566 billion trade gap last year, according to Census Bureau data.

reported its 2017 trade surplus as $276 billion, also about two thirds of its reported global surplus of $422.5 billion.

The spokeswoman declined to provide details about how the administration would like to accomplish the surplus-cutting goal -- whether increased purchases of products such as soybeans or aircraft would suffice, or whether it wants to make major changes to its industrial policies, cut subsidies to state-owned enterprises or further reduce steel and aluminium capacity.

The request comes as the is said to be preparing tariffs on imports of up to $60 billion worth of Chinese information technology, telecoms and consumer products as part of a investigation into China's intellectual property practices.

It is also unclear if the requested $100 billion reduction would address complaints about China's that effectively require firms to transfer technology to Chinese joint venture partners in order to gain market access.

The issue is a core part of the probe being conducted under Section 301 of the Trade Act of 1974, a provision seldom invoked since the was founded in 1995. Trade experts have said tariffs imposed as a result of the intellectual property probe may fall outside of

In a Thursday editorial, widely-read Chinese state-run tabloid the Global Times said the was trying to play the victim.

"If the wants to reduce its trade deficit, it has to make Americans more hard-working and conduct reforms in accordance with market demand, instead of asking the rest of the world to change," it wrote.

"Once a trade war starts, capable countries won't bow to the has tried hard to avoid a trade war, but if one breaks out, appeasement is not an option."


But Washington showed on Wednesday that it has not abandoned the global trade body, launching a WTO legal challenge to India's export subsidies for domestic companies, including producers of steel, chemicals, pharmaceuticals, textiles and IT products.

Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer said India had failed to remove the subsidies as required by after the country reached certain economic benchmarks.

The is expected to invoke a exception to in imposing import tariffs of 25 per cent on steel and 10 per cent on aluminium announced by Trump last week.

Wilbur Ross told lawmakers on Wednesday his department would soon publish procedures for product-specific exemptions from the for items that are not available from domestic producers or in short supply. The procedures are due by Sunday.

Anne Forristall Luke, president of the Tire Manufacturers Association, said the group would be "pressing very hard" for an exemption from tariffs for high-strength wire rod used to make cord for steel tire belts that is not produced by mills.

The largest sources for the material are Japan and Brazil, she said, adding that tire producers will lose business to foreign competitors if their steel costs rise.

"We are working this from the product side and the country side. We think we have a very good case," she told Reuters.

First Published: Thu, March 15 2018. 20:28 IST