The US treasury chief said in an interview that he believes further negotiations can end the tit-for-tat tariff row. Beijing, however, was not so positive in its outlook.
US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said on Friday that the US was in "communication" with China in order to avoid a trade war over tariffs. The statement came just hours after Beijing promised to "counterattack with great strength" any attempt by President Donald Trump to impose a new round of tariffs on Chinese goods.
"I'm cautiously optimistic that we will be able to work this out," Mnuchin told US broadcaster CNBC.
"Right now we have initiated a plan. The tariffs will take some period of time to go into effect. There will be public comment, while we're in the period before the tariffs go on. We'll continue to have discussions," he said. "The president wants reciprocal trade."
White House Economic Advisor Larry Kudlow said that the trade dispute could be resolved in a matter of months, but added that Trump's threat to impose even stricter tariffs was not a bluff.
Bejing: No room for negotiation
Earlier on Friday, President Trump had alluded to the possibility of raising US tariffs on an additional $100 billion (€81 billion) of Chinese goods, on top of the $50 billion already announced.
China retaliated by imposing its own tariffs on US products like pork, apples, soy beans and other agricultural products — hitting hard at Trump's base of supporters, but also risking hurting its only import-reliant industries.
Chinese Commerce Ministry spokesman Gao Feng took a much darker tone than Mnuchin and Ludlow in his own press conference on Friday, saying "if the US side announces the list of products for $100 billion in tariffs, the Chinese side has fully prepared and will without hesitation counterattack with great strength."
"Under these circumstances, the two sides cannot possibly conduct any negotiations about this issue."
US stocks tumbled over the rumblings of a trade war, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average falling 650 points and the value of the dollar weakening against a slew of other currencies.
es/bw (AP, AFP)