Published: Fri, November 30, 2018
Business | By Eloise Houston

Trump coy on China trade deal before meeting Xi

Trump coy on China trade deal before meeting Xi

On the other are pragmatists led by White House chief economist Larry Kudlow and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, concerned about the harm deepening friction could do to the US economy and markets. The two leaders would also agree on a "framework" for further talks, US officials such as Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross have said publicly.

"It is about the two biggest economies addressing their differences to provide certainty and stability to the global economy", the Prime Minister said. The most recent round of hand-wringing stems from comments made by Trump himself, which seem to throw cold water on a possible breakthrough.

The tariffs are having an impact in the US.

Topping the billing is a working dinner with Chinese President Xi Jinping, when Trump will press for wholesale reform of the world's second-biggest economy in favour of access for USA companies.

"I think we're very close to doing something with China, but I don't know that I want to do it, because what we have right now is billions and billions of dollars coming into the U.S. in the form of tariffs or taxes", Trump told reporters upon leaving the White House to travel to the G20 meeting in Argentina.

China hopes to convince Washington to hold off on hiking tariffs to 25 percent from 10 percent on January 1. But based on the tenor of the previous remarks, that comment seemed more geared to an eventual, hypothetical future, not a prediction pegged to the G-20 meeting.

Chinese auto exports to the United States are relatively small. "We're creating tremendous numbers of jobs". It's part of the administration's plan to obtain what it sees as more favorable trade deals for the U.S.

"I'm not happy with the Fed", Trump told the Washington Post earlier this week.

"I will tell you that I think China wants to make a deal, I'm hoping to make it a deal but, frankly, I like the deal we have right now".

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Or, as Trump put it in his WSJ interview, "They have to open up China to the United States".

All of these issues - in addition to a long list of concerns from the United States on cyber activities, foreign interference and more - make any comprehensive deal out of reach in the coming months.

The latest trade threat against China comes days before President Donald Trump is due to meet with Chinese leader Xi Jinping at a G20 summit in Argentina to defuse the ongoing trade conflict between the world's top two economic powers.

America's competitiveness would be enhanced if China agrees to ease joint-venture requirements (which result in forced transfers of technology and other know-how), combat intellectual property theft more forcefully, and look for ways to reduce its large bilateral surplus with the U.S. Such an understanding would also lower the risk of China being tempted to use its huge holdings of Treasuries and other U.S. assets to disrupt the American financial system in a global trade war.

Trump has already fired the first round in negotiations, said Burns, who served as US ambassador to North Atlantic Treaty Organisation and was the State Department's third-ranking diplomat during George W. Bush 's presidency. For one thing, China is not keen to upend its entire government-centered development strategy simply to please Trump.

He said the goods that would be affected represented only "a fraction of our economy" and that the US was in "better shape to weather this than the Chinese are".

Overshadowing Trump's comments was a report that White House economic advisor and China trade hawk Peter Navarro would be attending the Trump-Xi dinner.

"In relation to Mr Khashoggi, we want to see a full and transparent investigation of what happened and those responsible being held to account", she said.

The highly anticipated dinner between the two leaders, set for Saturday, will occur on the sidelines of the G-20 summit in Argentina.

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