China's import expo over-booked: commerce minister

A worker stands in a steel workshop in Zouping in China's eastern Shandong province on March 10

A trade war between China and the United States would bring disaster to the global economy, Chinese Commerce Minister Zhong Shan has warned.

China, however, wants to prevent the trade conflict with Washington from escalating, with the Asian power eager to build good political relations with the United States, sources close to the matter said.

"There will be no winners in the trade war, it will cause disaster for China, USA and the whole world", the Minister said.

On Thursday, Trump announced he was ordering the imposition of a 25 percent tariff on steel imports and 10 percent tariff on aluminum, but indicated certain countries might be exempted. He gave no details on how this figure was reached, but the US and Chinese governments generally report widely differing trade figures because Beijing counts only the first port to which goods go instead of their final destination.

The United States and China are scheduled to hold trade talks in Beijing in the near future. China is not one of those nations.

The further trade imbalance between the two countries is structural, with China exporting more commodities to the United States while importing more services, Zhong said, adding that trade competitiveness is determined by industries.

Ready for (Trade) War
But the tariffs may be the first foray in the brewing American trade war with Beijing. Trump's tweets follow China's moves to resolve the simmering trade tensions.

Washington and Beijing continue conducting negotiations now.

As China's exports surged in February its monthly surplus with the United States widened from a year earlier to $20.96 billion, according to data from the customs bureau.

China's persistently high trade surplus with the USA is the root of the tension, and Trump has said he plans to trim it by US$100 billion.

The U.S. reported a $375 billion deficit with China a year ago, so a 20 percent reduction would still be among the largest trade gaps that it has with any country. Specific details were not given, but Zhong pledged to give equal treatment to domestic and foreign businesses alike while continuing to curb "irrational overseas investment" from within China.

China's response came after a Bloomberg reporter asked if the country would consider retaliatory behavior following the tariffs.

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