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11 Dec, 2018 10:40

Submit or else: US gives China 90 days to accept trade ultimatum or face tariffs

Submit or else: US gives China 90 days to accept trade ultimatum or face tariffs

US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer has announced March 1 is the “hard deadline” for reaching a deal on trade with China, warning that new tariffs will be imposed otherwise.

“As far as I am concerned it is a hard deadline. When I talk to the president of the United States he is not talking about going beyond March,” Lighthizer said on the CBS show Face the Nation, referring to Donald Trump’s recent decision to delay tariff imposition until March 1 while talks proceed.

“The way this is set up is that at the end of 90 days, these tariffs will be raised,” he stressed.

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According to Lighthizer, investors “can be reassured that if there is a deal that can be made that will assure the protection of US technology… and get additional market access… the president wants us to do it… if not we will have tariffs.”

China’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang said both countries’ economic and trade teams were “intensifying contacts and consultations,” adding “We hope both can earnestly, with joint efforts, put into effect the consensus reached by the two countries’ leaders at the Argentina meeting.”

Earlier this month, Trump and his Chinese counterpart, President Xi Jinping, agreed to delay the planned January 1 US tariffs hike while they negotiate a trade deal. The hike would have seen tariffs rise to 25 percent from 10 percent on $200 billion of Chinese goods.

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However, the arrest of a top executive at China’s Huawei Technologies has sparked fears that it could further inflame the China-US trade row. Lighthizer, along with economic adviser Larry Kudlow, and trade adviser Peter Navarro insisted the trade talks with China would not be derailed by the arrest.

The US would need concessions across a number of areas in coming weeks if the higher tariffs are to be avoided, said Lighthizer. “We need agricultural sales and we need manufacturing sales. We need structural changes on this fundamental issue of non-economic technology transfer.”

The demands were similar to those made under previous Democratic and Republican presidents, according to the trade representative, who said that Trump’s willingness to go beyond “dialogue” and impose tariffs would produce results.

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