Trade War Fears Affect Asian Shares

World markets edged higher but remained jittery Monday, a result of a feared trade war between two economic powerhouses — the U.S. and China, following U.S. President Donald Trump’s announcement last week of stiff tariffs on imported Chinese steel and aluminum.

However, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said Monday that China would be willing to meet with U.S. officials to work out the two countries’ trade issues. while China’s foreign ministry urged the U.S. to “stop economic intimidation” over tariffs.

Monday the Wall Street Journal reported that the U.S. asked China in a letter last week to cut the tariff on U.S. autos, buy more U.S.-made semiconductors and give U.S. firms greater access to the Chinese financial sector.

The Journal also reported U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin may travel to Beijing to negotiate a deal with China.  

The U.S. has accused China of unfair trade practices, including intellectual property theft and dumping Chinese goods on the global marketplace to make U.S. goods appear more expensive.

China has denied the U.S. charges, and Vice Premier Liu He told Treasury Secretary  Mnuchin in a telephone call Saturday that China is ready to defend its interests.

Meanwhile South Korea announced Monday that it has won an exemption from the stiff steel tariffs as it negotiates its trade differences with the U.S.

A senior Chinese official warned Sunday that a trade war would hurt all sides and set off a “greater conflict.”

“A trade war serves the interests of none. It will only lead to serious consequences and negative impact,” Vice Premier Han Zheng said at a development forum in Beijing. “We believe trade protectionism, against the trend, will lead to nowhere.”

Han did not mention the United States or President Donald Trump by name, whose announcement of stiff tariffs on imported Chinese steel and aluminum was answered with tariffs and duties on a list of U.S. imports.

Han appealed to all global trading partners to “cooperate with each other like passengers in the same boat… make economic globalization more open, inclusive, balanced and beneficial for all.”


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