On September 25, Secretary Wilbur Ross and Ambassador Terry Branstad met separately with Premier Li Keqiang, Vice Premier Wang Yang, NDRC Chairman He Lifeng, Director of the Party Central Economic and Financial Affairs Leading Small Group Liu He, and MIIT Minister Miao Wei. The Secretary also met with his counterpart, Minister of Commerce Zhong Shan, on the evening of September 24.
The meetings provided opportunities to prepare the ground for President Trump’s planned visit to Asia later this fall and to engage in a friendly and honest exchange of views on a range of issues including the need to rebalance bilateral trade and investment relations, protect intellectual property, lower tariffs and non-tariff barriers, and guarantee fair and reciprocal treatment for U.S. firms.
The Secretary highlighted his intention to lead a senior level trade mission to China in November and to reduce the trade deficit through increased exports of high-value U.S. goods and services to China and improved market access for U.S. firms.
Chinese officials committed to further market opening and welcomed participation by U.S. firms. Both sides expressed the view that bilateral trade frictions should be resolved through negotiation, commitment to high standards, and good economic governance. Secretary Ross reiterated the need for concrete deliverables and meaningful action on key issues.
Chinese officials also expressed concern about U.S. export controls and about the Section 301 investigation that is being conducted by the United States Trade Representative.
In response, the Secretary relayed the ongoing concerns of the U.S. business community at forced technology transfers, data localization, and other intellectual property rights issues. Chinese officials asked Secretary Ross to inform them of any such issues to them as they arise, saying they would seek to resolve these challenges on behalf of American companies.
Chinese officials continually stressed that dialogue is preferable to unilateral action, saying that they would have to respond in kind to any potential action by the United States. Secretary Ross once again continued to stress the need for concrete action to address the concerns of U.S. businesses, and that the U.S. would take action to defend American workers and businesses if cooperative efforts bear no fruit.
Secretary Ross now travels on to Hong Kong, Thailand, and Laos.