Chinese investment restrictions on table when US President Donald Trump meets senators, sources say

Lawmakers want leader to understand that unilateral curbs are not popular in Congress, according to people familiar with issue

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 05 June, 2018, 3:40pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 05 June, 2018, 10:52pm

US President Donald Trump plans on Tuesday to meet Senate Republicans concerned about restrictions he is considering putting on Chinese investments in the US, two people familiar with the matter said.

The meeting, called by the administration, includes Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn of Texas and Mike Crapo of Idaho, the chairman of the Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee, the people said.

The lawmakers want to discuss Trump’s investigation into Chinese violations of intellectual property rights that has prompted US threats of tariffs on imports of a range of products from the world’s second-largest economy, they said.

Trump to hit US$50bn of Chinese imports with 25 per cent tariffs, restrict investment in hi-tech

They want Trump to understand that unilateral investment curbs are not popular in Congress and that there is legislation under consideration that would overlap with the crackdown the administration is considering.

A White House spokesman did not respond to a request for comment.

Some members of Congress are objecting to the executive authority Trump wants to use to punish trading partners for imbalances he says hurt American workers. Last week he announced tariffs against imports of steel and aluminium from Mexico, Canada and the European Union that are already imposed on Chinese metals.

Is it time Beijing ditched ‘Made in China 2025’ and stopped upsetting the rest of the world?

The president has also threatened tariffs on as much as US$150 billion worth of Chinese imports after the office of the US trade representative earlier this year concluded that Beijing violates American intellectual property rights. China vowed to retaliate in kind, sparking fears of a trade war.

“I am working with like-minded Republican senators on ways to push back on the president using authorities in ways never intended and that are damaging to our country and our allies,” Senator Bob Corker, a Republican from Tennessee and the chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, said in a tweet on Saturday. “Will Democrats join us?”

Beijing warns Washington: all trade promises are off if US imposes tariffs

But Cornyn said he believed the president’s actions could not be stopped through legislation.

“I don’t think there is a legislative response. Congress has already given the president pretty unilateral authority on trade matters,” he said on Monday.

“So I think we’re going to continue to have the conversation and use the powers of persuasion.”

Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross returned from a three-day trade mission to Beijing without specific pledges from China to purchase more exports from the US.

China should seize the day and push on with tough economic reforms, IMF says

The concern about Trump’s trade moves is shared by traditional allies.

Finance chiefs from the G7 wealthy nations emerged from three days of talks on Saturday united in their condemnation of his decision to impose tariffs on the EU, Canada and Mexico, and promising to press ahead with retaliatory measures unless Trump steps back.

It was a rare rebuke of a member nation by the group that foreshadows high drama when Trump meets leaders of the other six major industrial nations on Friday at a summit in the Canadian resort town of Charlevoix, near the border with the United States.