Major U.S. trade groups link up in anti-tariff coalition

President Donald Trump holds an Oval Office meeting at the White House on Sept. 11 2018. LEAH MILLIS  Reuters

Our markets are surging, theirs are collapsing.

"With the $200 billion round of tariffs looming, this is probably the best time for the U.S. to go back to the table with a "take it or leave it" type of trade demand", Robert Carnell, the chief Asia-Pacific economist at investment bank ING, said in a note.

"If we meet, we meet?" he said.

China's Commerce Minister confirmed it received the invitation but after this tweet from Trump, you have to wonder how much there is to negotiate.

U.S. President Donald Trump said on Thursday that the United States was under no pressure to make a trade deal with China, even as Chinese officials welcomed an invitation from Washington for a new round of talks with more U.S. tariffs looming.

This latest tweet underscores that concern.

White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow would not confirm the meeting invitation, but said that communication with Beijing had "picked up a notch".

The White House has accused China of forcing US companies to partner with local firms and then stealing their intellectual property, among other grievances. "And so, Secretary Mnuchin, who is the team leader with China, has apparently issued an invitation".

"Tariffs are already negatively impacting USA companies and the imposition of a proposed $200 billion tranche will bring a lot more pain", Eric Zheng, chairman of the American Chamber of Commerce in Shanghai, said Thursday in a statement.

Some 63.6 percent of more than 430 companies that responded to the American chambers' survey said profits and customer demand have fallen due to the USA tariffs and 62.5 percent said the same about retaliatory Chinese tariffs.

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The damage from the trade war to U.S. businesses in China includes lost profits, higher manufacturing costs and lower demand for their products, according to the survey of more than 430 companies in industries ranging from technology to health care.

Eric Zheng, chairman of AmCham Shanghai, said he supported the administration's goal to push Beijing into overhauling trade practices Trump considers unfair.

Two-thirds of American companies that responded to a survey said they have suffered lost sales or lower profits due to that increase, two chambers of commerce reported Thursday.

Trump appeared nonchalant about whether China met with his trade representatives to make a deal.

But he cautioned: "I guarantee nothing". A meeting among Cabinet-level officials could ease market worries over the escalating tariff war that threatens to engulf all trade between the world's two largest economies and raise costs for companies and consumers.

The next wave of 25 per cent tariffs on a further $200 billion in imports will loom over any talks - after a public consultation period for affected businesses came to an end last Thursday.

The last talks, between mid-level USA and Chinese officials on August 22 and 23, failed to reach any agreement.

So far, the United States and China have hit US$50 billion worth of each other's goods with tariffs in a dispute over USA demands that China make sweeping economic policy changes, including ending joint venture and technology transfer policies, rolling back industrial subsidy programs and better protecting American intellectual property.

A day earlier, more than 60 USA industry groups launched a coalition - Americans for Free Trade - to take the fight against the tariffs public.

He also made it clear he was ready to impose tariffs worth $200 billion on goods "very soon" if President Xin Jinping's government refused to back down.

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