By Joe Cash
BEIJING (Reuters) -China’s commerce minister expressed concern over U.S. curbs on semiconductor exports to China, as well as sanctions on Chinese firms and tariffs on Chinese imports, when he met U.S. Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo on Thursday, his ministry said Friday.
Wang Wentao told Raimondo in San Francisco: “it is very important the two sides discuss the boundary between national security concerns and trade and economic cooperation,” a statement read.
The world’s two biggest economies used to be each other’s largest trading partners, and while both governments publicly oppose decoupling, China is now trading more with Southeast Asia and the U.S. with neighbouring Canada and Mexico.
“Wang Wentao expressed concern about the final rules of the U.S. semiconductor export controls against China, sanctions against Chinese companies, two-way investment restrictions, and Section 301 tariffs,” according to China’s commerce ministry.
U.S. President Joe Biden has retained additional tariffs placed on a plethora of Chinese exports under the previous Trump administration and added new restrictions prohibiting the export of advanced semiconductors and the equipment to make them, citing security concerns.
Two-way trade hit a record $690 billion last year, as U.S. demand for Chinese consumer goods rose and Beijing’s demand for U.S. farm products and energy grew.
This year is off to a significantly slower pace, however, with two-way trade flows through September down $104 billion, or 19%, from the first nine months of 2022, according to U.S. Census Bureau data.
Wang and Raimondo also agreed to hold the first meeting of a commerce working group at the vice minister level in the first quarter of 2024, China’s commerce ministry said.
(Reporting by Joe Cash; Editing by Christopher Cushing and Mark Potter)