Commerce Secretary: 'China knows they don't want a trade war with us'

Commerce Secretary: 'China knows they don't want a trade war with us'
© Greg Nash

Commerce Secretary Wilbur RossWilbur Louis RossHolding defiant Trump witnesses to account, Jan. 6 committee carries out Congress's constitutional role Bannon's subpoena snub sets up big decision for Biden DOJ House panel, Commerce Department reach agreement on census documents MORE said Tuesday that "China knows they don't want a trade war with us" after the nation announced plans to impose reciprocal tariffs on $3 billion worth of U.S. imports in response to those put on China by the Trump administration. 

"I think China knows they don't want to have a trade war with us. So I think it's a very moderated response. Probably an appropriate response from their point of view," the billionaire trade mogul told host Maria Bartiromo on Fox Business Network's "Mornings with Maria." 

Ross said the tariffs, levied by China against imports of U.S. steel piping, pork, fruit and wine, constituted "politically sensitive targets." 

China's actions come in response to President TrumpDonald TrumpHillicon Valley — State Dept. employees targets of spyware Ohio Republican Party meeting ends abruptly over anti-DeWine protesters Jan. 6 panel faces new test as first witness pleads the Fifth MORE's announcement of tariffs against the country that he says will total nearly $60 billion to make up for intellectual property damages against U.S. businesses. 

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Trump's declaration cited a government study that found Chinese theft of U.S. copyrights cost the U.S. economy billions of dollars each year. 

China has called to resolve the trade dispute in diplomatic talks with the U.S., and is pursuing legal action through the World Trade Organization. 

Ross noted the importance of trade talks with China on intellectual property laws, an issue he says carries more weight than the current bout over protective trade tariffs in the international community. 

“The importance of it is this: things like steels, aluminum, and autos, that’s today. Intellectual property rights, that’s our future. So we need to deal with both. We need to protect today’s businesses and we need to deal with the future," he said.

Trump's tariffs on China are unrelated from an across-the-board tax on imports of aluminum and steel imposed on all nations earlier this month. 

Ross also voiced optimism that the U.S. trade representative overseeing negotiations with Canada and Mexico on the North American Free Trade Agreement could put a deal together by the end of the calendar year.