A trade war between China and the United States would bring disaster to the global economy, Chinese Commerce Minister Zhong Shan has warned.
"A trade war will only bring disaster to China, the USA and the global economy".
China will launch new cooperation platforms including the first China International Import Expo, as well as pilot zones for free trade, and development and cooperation zones, Zhong said at a press conference on the sidelines of the annual national legislative session.
The deficit could be reduced by 35 percent if the United States eased export controls on high-technology products to China, he said, citing unspecified USA research. 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.
Mr Zhong said a panel of experts tasked with conducting a comparative study of differences in trade statistics between the two countries repeatedly found that the US' trade deficit with China was overestimated by about 20 per cent each year.
Zhong said that Beijing would continue to "relax market access" to China, and that it would also attach greater importance to intellectual property rights, another point of tension with the U.S.
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This comes after U.S. President Donald Trump on Thursday signed a proclamation that sets the tariff on imports of steel at 25% and on aluminum at 10%, to be effected in 15 days.
The U.S. control of high-tech exports to China also contributed to bilateral trade imbalance, Zhong said, quoting one U.S. research that estimated a 35-percent fall in the trade deficit with China if the United States relaxed export restrictions.
Trade tensions between the world's two largest economies are widely expected to intensify this year as Washington's trade policy with Beijing is influenced by hardliners such as White House trade adviser Peter Navarro and US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer. The figure for February fell slightly from the previous month to US$21 billion, according to the latest data from the customs administration.
Beijing has indicated it will implement retaliatory measures, such as by imposing tariffs on agricultural products imported from the United States.
There was still "no immediate clarity on the exact USA procedure on exemption", Malmstrom, the 28-nation bloc's trade commissioner, said after the meeting that also included Japanese Trade Minister Hiroshige Seko.