US, China’s top commerce officials meet to discuss trade concerns

The US and China flags stand behind a microphone at the US Embassy in Beijing on April 9, 2009.

Frederic J. Brown | AFP | GettyImages

US Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo sat down with her Chinese counterpart Wang Wentao in Washington DC on Thursday to discuss “concerns” surrounding bilateral trade.

Marking the first cabinet-level exchange between the two countries in months, the US talked about American companies operating in China.

According to a readout by the Commerce Department, “The two had candid and substantive discussions on issues relating to the US-China commercial relationship, including the overall environment in both countries for trade and investment and areas for potential cooperation.”

Raimondo also raised concerns about the recent spat of PRC [People’s Republic of China] actions taken against US companies operating in the PRC,” it said.

The bilateral exchange between Raimondo and Wang comes as market observers keep a close eye on whether the US will curb American investments into China, as relations between the world’s largest economies sour.

Read more about China from CNBC Pro

The Group of Seven leaders met Hiroshima over the weekend, and vowed to “de-risk and diversify” from Chinese reliance, adding that some of Beijing’s practices “distort the global economy.”

The high-level talks come as China reportedly conducts inspections on US audit firms in the mainland over national security breaches.

Earlier this week, China announced it will ban some purchases of products from a US memory chipmaker Micron — barring operators of “critical information infrastructure” in China after a security review conducted by the Cyberspace Administration of China.

In response, the US Commerce Department’s spokesperson said, “We firmly oppose restrictions that have no basis in fact.” He said the department will engage with the Chinese government to “detail” its position and seek clarity.

In the release published by China’s Ministry of Commerce after his meeting with Raimondo, Wang also raised concerns over US policies on semiconductors and export controls.

“The two sides agreed to establish communication channels to maintain and strengthen exchanges on specific economic and trade concerns and cooperation matters,” it said.

Wang is expected to meet US Trade Representative Katherine Tai during his visit to the US where he is set to attend the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation trade ministers’ meeting.

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Andrew Naughtie

News reporter and author at @websalespromo

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