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Beijing hits back at US: Don't you DARE blame China for collapse of duty-free IT talks

Irate commerce minister: 'US is unwilling to make any concessions'

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Chinese commerce minister Gao Hucheng has said it was "irresponsible" of the US to stop trade talks on abolishing tariffs on tech products and to blame China for the breakdown in negotiations.

Both the US and the EU said at the end of last week that China's insistence on exempting more than a hundred products from the list of duty-free IT goods was scuppering progress in the talks at the World Trade Organisation.

But Gao said in a statement (translated by Google) that the US had abandoned a deal that had been agreed by lots of countries just because it didn't meet with its expectations. He said that China had compromised to get a deal on expanding the Information Technology Agreement but that US demands were too high.

"The US is unwilling to make any concessions and is ignoring the huge difference in competitiveness between the two countries, which is unacceptable to China," he said.

He added that despite this, China didn't believe the the current negotiations had come to an end.

"All parties should make joint efforts in the right direction to find a way to extend negotiations towards an early agreement," he said.

US trade representative Michael Froman and EU commissioner Karel De Gucht both said last week that China's refusal to reduce its list of exemptions had led the talks to break down. The EU's trade delegation said that a deal that allowed the exemptions would be "imbalanced".

"If China's requests were accepted, the list of products to liberalise would contain a very large number of products of important export interest to China, including quite a number of them which are sensitive for the EU, but many products of export interest for the EU would be excluded," it said. ®

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