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China trade deficit figure overestimated by about 20 pct: commerce minister

12 March 2018

Any trade war with the USA will only bring disaster to the world economy, Chinese Commerce Minister Zhong Shan said yesterday, as Beijing stepped up criticism of metal tariffs by Washington amid fears it could shatter global growth.

"A trade war will only bring disaster to China, the U.S. and the global economy".

"There will be no victor", Commerce Minister Zhong Shan told a press conference on the sidelines of the ongoing session of the National People's Congress.

The CIIE is one of four major global events to be hosted by China this year, along with the Boao Forum for Asia annual conference in April, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization summit in June and the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation summit in September.

Zhong said nobody wants to fight a trade war, but he added that China can handle any challenge and will resolutely protect its interests.

US President Donald Trump this week delivered on his campaign promises to get tough on trade by imposing tariffs of 25 per cent and 10 per cent on steel and aluminium imports, respectively.

The Trump administration earlier approved higher tariffs on Chinese-made washing machines, solar modules and some other goods, prompting Beijing to accuse Washington of disrupting global trade regulation by taking action under USA law instead of through the World Trade Organization.

The Trump administration has urged Beijing to take steps to reduce the U.S.

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The US trade shortfall in goods with China surged 8.1 percent during the first year of Trump's presidency, reaching a record $375 billion, according to Commerce Department data released last month.

Part of the reason for the trade gap, Zhong said, was that the U.S. had restricted hi-tech exports to China.

It is "important" to resolve the bilateral trade dispute through dialogue and to deepen economic cooperation between China and the United States, Zhong said.

He noted that China's top economic adviser Liu He visited the U.S. recently and held "candid and constructive" talks with American officials on bilateral trade issues.

There was still "no immediate clarity on the exact U.S. procedure on exemption", Malmstrom, the 28-nation bloc's trade commissioner, said after the meeting that also included Japanese Trade Minister Hiroshige Seko.

"We have noticed that some foreign-funded businesses have complained about China's investment environment", Zhong said.

Seko is expected to visit China sometime soon, a diplomatic source said.

China trade deficit figure overestimated by about 20 pct: commerce minister