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China trade issues 'had to be addressed' by the US, says former Cisco CEO John Chambers

Trade talks between the U.S. and China will resume next month, offering hope that the standoff between the world’s largest economic titans may finally come to an end. But on Friday, The New York Times and other outlets reported that the Trump administration is considering barring Chinese companies from listing on U.S. exchanges.

In a newly released interview, taped in June, former Cisco (CSCO) CEO John Chambers said his “good friends” in Silicon Valley have praised President Donald Trump for confronting the issue of trade with China, but Chambers lightly criticized the execution of the strategy.

“Several of my good friends said that, at least finally a president is taking the issue on squarely,” Chambers says. “It surprised me because when I'm at dinners with startups and larger companies in the Valley, most of them believe this issue had to be dealt with.”

“Bringing it to the attention, it wasn't a very gentle landing. And we'll see if we get landed, but I think it needed to be a firmness,” he adds.

On Thursday, China’s Ministry of Commerce confirmed the purchase of “considerable” amounts of pork and soybeans from U.S. producers ahead of senior-level talks on October 10. Don’t expect a breakthrough anytime soon, Chambers said.

“The relationship with China is going to continue to be tough for a while,” Chambers says. “I personally believe it's in both countries' best interests to work through it and get back to a win-win ... But the issues had to be addressed.”

“It can't be win-lose in today's world,” he adds.“You can't ask one country to do something and not expect the other country to be fair in the exchange.”

Chambers made the comments during a conversation that aired in an episode of Yahoo Finance’s “Influencers with Andy Serwer,” a weekly interview series with leaders in business, politics, and entertainment.

For a decade, Chambers ran internet hardware company Cisco, growing the business to yearly revenue of nearly $50 billion. He’s currently the CEO of the firm JC2 Ventures, where he funds and advises startups. He also guides Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and French President Emmanuel Macron on how to make their countries favorable to startups.

The American Chamber of Commerce in China conducted a survey in May of almost 250 member companies that found about 75% reported that the increase of U.S. and China tariffs has negatively affected their business.

NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 20, 2016 : John Chambers, Executive Chairman, Cisco participates in a panel discussion during the annual Clinton Global Initiative on September 20, 2016 in New York City. Since 2005, the CGI has coincided with the opening of the UN General Assembly, bringing together political and business leaders to help promote philanthropy on a global scale. (Photo by Stephanie Keith/Getty Images)

Trump tweeted last month plans to slap an additional 5% tariff on $250 billion in goods already being taxed as well as on $300 billion worth of Chinese goods set to be taxed beginning in September. Two days after the tweet, he said he was having “second thoughts” about the escalation of trade tensions.

The U.S. Trade Representative’s office later confirmed that the Trump administration would move forward with the tariff increase on $300 billion worth of goods set to be taxed in September.

Additional tariffs on the $250 in goods are set to go into effect on Oct. 15, five days after the next scheduled talks; and tariffs on some of the $300 billion in goods took effect on Sept. 1 and the remaining goods will be subject to tariffs beginning on Dec. 15.

Andy Serwer is editor-in-chief of Yahoo Finance. Follow him on Twitter: @serwer.

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