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US, China officials address trade concerns amid Ukraine war

July 5, 2022

US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen and Chinese Vice Premier Liu He held a virtual talk to discuss a range of issues, including US tariffs on Chinese goods, according to China's account of the "constructive" talks.

Cargo shipping containers are seen in a storage yard surrounded by petroleum storage tanks and oil refineries in Carson, California, on March 11, 2022
Supply chain disruptions were among the topics at the trade meetingImage: Bing Guan/Reuters

Top representatives from the United States and Chinese held a virtual meeting on Tuesday to discuss a range of economic issues against the backdrop of soaring inflation in the US and much of the world, and the war in Ukraine.

US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen and Chinese Vice Premier Liu He discussed issues ranging from the impact of the Ukraine war on the global economy, supply chain disruptions, and US tariffs on Chinese goods, according to the two countries' statements on the talks afterwards, which focused on different issues. 

Both countries released statements that addressed their own concerns

China raises US tariffs, US raises Chinese market practices

China said it expressed concern "about issues such as the United States canceling tariffs and sanctions on China and fair treatment of Chinese enterprises."

China's state news agency, Xinhua, said that the officials discussed that "jointly maintaining the stability of the global industrial and supply chains is in the interests of both countries and the whole world."

Xinhua reported that the call took place at the request of the US and said the conversation was "constructive."

China did not mention Russia's war in Ukraine in its statement, but said Liu and Yellen believed the current global economy was facing "grim" challenges.

The US Treasury Department said the exchange was "candid and substantive" in its own statement, but did not mention China's concerns over US tariffs.

The Treasury Department said Yellen "frankly" raised several issues of concern which included the impact of the Russia-Ukraine war on the global economy and China's unfair economic practices.

Fractious trade between the world's two largest economies

With inflation in the US having hit a 40-year high this March and gas prices at a record high, US President Joe Biden asked his team last month to examine options of potentially lifting  some tariffs on Chinese goods in a bid to relieve US consumers. 

Yellen herself has also said that some of the tariffs imposed by the Trump administration made "no strategic sense." 

The US and China are the world's two largest economies by a considerable margin, with China rapidly closing the gap to the much less populous US in recent years and decades.

Biden is also expected to speak with Chinese President Xi Jinping over the summer, but there's no clarity on the date yet.

rm/msh (Reuters, AP, AFP)