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Report: US requests Chinese measures to reduce trade deficit

The Trump administration laid out specific measures to address the U.S.'s $375 billion trade deficit with China in a letter sent in the week of March 19 to Liu He, China's vice premier for financial and industrial policy.

In that letter, U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and trade representative Robert Lighthizer said the U.S. is looking to boost sales of U.S. cars and semiconductors to China to reduce the bilateral trade deficit by $100 billion, The Wall Street Journal reported March 25, citing people familiar with the talks.

China needs to reduce 25% tariffs on U.S. automobiles, Washington said. The U.S. is also urging Beijing to shift some of its semiconductor purchases to U.S. companies from Japanese and South Korean ones, the people added. It is also asking China to ease restrictions on U.S. financial companies, specifically on requirements to operate as joint ventures and limiting U.S. firms to 51% ownership, the report said.

Mnuchin is considering a trip to Beijing to pursue the negotiations, one of the people said.

Liu, who visited Washington in late February, also received advice on what China needs to do to reduce the trade deficit. It included reducing subsidies to state-owned enterprises, more regulatory transparency and stopping forcing U.S. companies in China to transfer their technology to Chinese joint venture partners.

Liu did not make commitments at the time, the individuals said, but observers expect China President Xi Jinping to announce plans to allow greater foreign access to markets such as insurance in the Boao Forum in April, the Journal said.