US Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin said there was potential for a US-China trade war, however, he noted that Washington doesn't seek to confront Beijing. He added that the US can manage the impact of new Chinese tariffs on the US economy without "significant damage."
He said the US regularly communicates with China and that Washington is ready for talks. At the same time, he stressed that President Trump is prepared to protect American trade interests.
"On the one hand, we absolutely are willing to negotiate and not get into trade wars but on the other hand, the president is perfectly willing to defend interests," Mnuchin said, as cited by CNBC.
The spokesman for the Chinese Ministry of Commerce, Gao Feng, said on Friday that Beijing was ready to respond to Washington if it imposes additional tariffs on Chinese goods.
Since taking office in January 2016, President Trump has consistently accused China of unfair trade policies. On March 22, he signed a memorandum to raise tariffs on imports from China, a move that the president said could bring around $60 billion to US economy. The Chinese Commerce Ministry has responded with new import tariffs on 128 US products.
Trump has vigorously enforced US trade laws by backing companies and industries that complain of harm from unfair trade due to imposed duties on imports. Trump has reversed the policy of his predecessors who relied on dispute mechanisms in the WTO and other trade agreements to resolve disputes.