China warnings signal Trump's trade war finally hitting home


American envoys are due in Beijing for talks Monday in a tariff battle over Chinese technology ambitions.

A team of US negotiators led by Deputy US Trade Representative Jeffrey Gerrish will sit down with their Chinese counterparts next week to follow up on agreements reached between US President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping on the sidelines of the G-20 summit in Buenos Aires in December, the Chinese Ministry of Commerce announced Friday.

Now China and the United States face a key March deadline for talks to end the damaging trade war, or Washington could proceed with a sharp hike in USA tariffs on Chinese goods originally set for January 1 and Beijing could retaliate.

The Commerce Ministry confirmed that Gerrish would lead the USA delegation at the talks. But economists say the USA economy could be slowing and uncertainty in global economic fortunes has led to volatile daily swings in stock indexes in recent weeks. But they reject pressure to scrap technology initiatives they see as a path to prosperity and global influence.

It cited steeper-than-expected "economic deceleration" in China, which is one of its largest overseas markets, amid the US-China trade war.

Both governments face economic pressure to reach a settlement. Auto sales tumbled 16 percent in November over a year earlier and weak real estate sales are forcing developers to cut prices.

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U.S. firms that rely on Chinese consumers have also been impacted by the country´s economic slowdown. "There are a heck of a lot of USA companies that have sales in China that are going to be watching their earnings being downgraded next year until we get a deal with China". Gao Feng, a spokesman for China's Commerce Ministry, said last week that the two sides have "made specific arrangements for face-to-face meetings" and are talking by phone. Some U.S. demands would require structural reform that may be unpalatable for Chinese leaders.

Chinese officials are unhappy with USA curbs on exports of "dual use" technology with possible military applications.

Trump and Xi agreed to postpone additional tariff hikes for 90 days, but economists say that is too little time to resolve their sprawling dispute.

Some manufacturers that serve the United States have shifted production to other countries. The shares closed at US$148.26 on Friday, down about 5.1 percent for the week.

Apple's lowered revenue outlook along with a double-digit drop in earnings at commodities giant Cargill Inc on Thursday may be among the clearest warning signs yet that the trade war's effects have begun to hit US companies.