China drops anti-dumping sorghum probe, denies deficit offer

Trade deficit not the priority in talks with China?

Wall Street Journal Global Economics Editor Jon Hilsenrath on U.S. trade negotiations with China.

China has dropped its anti-dumping investigation into U.S. sorghum imports, a Chinese Commerce Ministry spokesman said Friday, adding that it was not in the public interest.

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But he denied that China offered to slash the U.S. trade deficit by up to $200 billion, according to Reuters.

The move suggests Beijing is willing to come to a deal with Washington to avert a trade war, according to analysts.

"I think China is willing to make concessions," said Wang Tao, chief China economist at UBS. "The Chinese stance has been very clear, that China wants to mute any trade dispute. But of course it doesn't mean China would heed to all the demands the U.S. would place."

The U.S. is China's biggest supplier of sorghum, accounting for more than 90% of total imports.

Commenting on the move, the Chinese Commerce Ministry said that "Anti-dumping and countervailing measures against imported sorghum originating in the United States would affect the cost of living of a majority of consumers and would not be in the public interest," according to a notice posted on its website.

On Thursday, Beijing cleared the way for a group led by U.S. private equity firm Bain Capital to purchase Toshiba’s computer memory chip business.

Meanwhile, President Trump and a U.S. team led by Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin met at the White House this week with Chinese Vice Premier Liu He this week. Talks were scheduled to conclude Friday.

 The Associated Press contributed to this report.