(Rewrites with opening remarks from U.S.-China economic talks)
WASHINGTON, July 19 (Reuters) - Senior Trump administration officials said on Wednesday they wanted to break down barriers to sales of U.S. products to China and secure more U.S. company access to the Chinese economy to rebalance what they say is an unfair trading relationship.
At the start of annual summer economic talks between the world's two largest economies, U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said China's $347 billion trade deficit with the United States was not the product of market forces, so the relationship needed to become "more fair, equitable and reciprocal."
"We must create more balance in our trade by increasing exports of made-in-America goods to China," Ross said at the Treasury Department. "There are significant opportunities to do this if we can work together to remove the significant barriers that continue to exist."
The start of the Trump administration's "U.S.-China Comprehensive Economic Dialogue" talks comes at the end of a 100-day effort to craft an economic plan aimed at reducing the U.S. goods trade deficit with China.
In a sign the talks may be off to a rocky start, both the U.S. and Chinese delegations canceled news conferences scheduled for the conclusion of the discussions late Wednesday afternoon. Representatives of the U.S. Treasury and the Chinese embassy in Washington did not offer an explanation.
So far, China has agreed to resume purchasing U.S. beef after a 14-year hiatus and committed to buy U.S. liquefied natural gas and open some parts of its financial services markets, such as card payment services.
China trade experts say Wednesday's discussions will likely yield some more small-scale announcements or transactions, but not solve larger problems, such as U.S. complaints about China's excess capacity in steel and aluminum and subsidies for state-owned enterprises, nor China's complaints about U.S. refusals to sell Beijing advanced technology products.
Bolder reforms are viewed as unlikely before China's 19th Party Congress this autumn, a once-in-five-years event to choose leadership.
"What I think we will see is an attempt by both sides to be able to declare victory by coming up with a few very specific areas in which China agrees to open up its markets more and which the U.S. can claim as victories," said Eswar Prasad, a professor of trade policy at Cornell University and a former China division chief at the International Monetary Fund.
U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin repeated calls by other U.S. officials for Beijing to rebalance its economy toward household consumption and away from exports and investment, a move he said would foster healthier, more sustainable growth.
"Foreign participation in the Chinese financial sector will help improve the allocation of resources to the most productive sectors of the Chinese economy and contribute to a stronger global financial system," Mnuchin said.
Jared Kushner, President Donald Trump's son-in-law and a senior White House adviser, also participated in the talks.
Chinese Vice Premier Wang Yang said the two sides should maintain a healthy dialog and warned against starting down the path of confrontation over trade.
"Dialog cannot immediately address all differences, but confrontation will immediately damage the interests of both," Wang said.
While the talks this year no longer have an explicit strategic and security component, they were expected to cover U.S. demands that China put more pressure on North Korea to curb its nuclear and missile development efforts - an issue that Trump has linked to U.S-China trade.
The Trump administration could impose new sanctions on small Chinese banks and other firms doing business with Pyongyang within weeks, administration sources said last week. (Editing by Kim Coghill and Jeffrey Benkoe)