Trump team demands China slash US trade surplus by $200 billion, cut tariffs
US President Donald Trump, warmly welcomed Chinese President Xi Jinping to what the US leader likes to call the "Winter White House," the Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida. (AFP / JIM WATSON)

The United States has demanded that China cut its U.S. trade surplus by $200 billion, end subsidies for advanced technology industries and sharply cut import tariffs to U.S. levels, two people familiar with U.S.-China trade talks said on Friday.

The lengthy list of demands was presented to Beijing prior to the start of talks Thursday and Friday between top-level Trump administration officials and their Chinese counterparts to try to sort out disputes that have threatened a damaging trade war between the world’s two largest economies.

The talks ended with China’s Xinhua news agency describing them as “constructive, candid and efficient” but with disagreements that remain “relatively big.”

The U.S. side has yet to give its account of the talks, and there was no sign that President Donald Trump would back off on his threat to impose tariffs on up to $150 billion in Chinese goods over allegations of intellectual property theft.

Speaking with reporters in Washington on Friday, Trump said he was determined to bring fairness to the U.S.-China trading relationship.

“We’re going to have some incredible trade deals announced,” Trump said, adding he had “great respect” for China’s President Xi Jinping. “That’s why we’re being so nice, because we have a great relationship.

The United States has proposed tariffs on $50 billion of Chinese goods under its “Section 301” intellectual property probe. Those could go into effect in June following the completion of a 60-day consultation period, but activation plans have been kept vague.

China has said its own retaliatory tariffs on U.S. goods, including soybeans and aircraft, will go into effect if the U.S. duties are imposed.


Trump on Thursday praised his relationship with Chinese President Xi as the U.S delegation began their talks, which were held at a state guest house in the western part of the Chinese capital.

U.S. complaints about Chinese intellectual property abuses are at the core of the current dispute. The Trump administration says U.S. companies lose hundreds of billions of dollars annually to China’s theft of trade secrets.

Some economists noted that the deficit with China was the natural result of the large amount of manufacturing assembly of U.S. products, such as iPhones, that takes place in China.

“As long as China remains the assembly hub of the world, it’s always going to have a large trade surplus with developed consumer countries like the U.S. and the E.U. and that’s not necessarily a problem,” said Julian Evans-Pritchard, senior China economist at Capital Economics.

Reporting by Sue-Lin Wong and David Lawder; Editing by Andrea Ricci