Aside from “jokingly” praising Chinese President Xi Jinping for abolishing term limits, President Trump has spent most of March threatening to issue — and actually issuing — new tariffs against the former’s country. Even so, a new report from the Wall Street Journal indicates that U.S. and Chinese representatives have been quietly negotiating new trade deals and economic access behind the scenes. Specifically, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer have been discussing these matter with China’s economic czar, Liu He.
According to the WSJ‘s report, Mnuchin and Lighthizer sent a letter to Liu’s office last week — literally around the time Trump announced his new tariffs:
In a letter Messrs. Mnuchin and Lighthizer sent to Mr. Liu late last week, the Trump administration set out specific requests that include a reduction of Chinese tariffs on U.S. automobiles, more Chinese purchases of U.S. semiconductors and greater access to China’s financial sector by American companies, the people said. Mr. Mnuchin is weighing a trip to Beijing to pursue the negotiations, one of these people said.
Mnuchin also called Liu on Saturday, per the WSJ‘s sources, but a Treasury spokesperson insisted it was to “congratulate him on the official announcement of his new role” in the Chinese government. “They also discussed the trade deficit between our two countries and committed to continuing the dialogue to find a mutually agreeable way to reduce it,” the spokesperson added.
While China “reacted angrily” to Trump’s $50 billion in new tariffs last week, the WSJ does note that Beijing “[has] been careful not to escalate the fight by much.” What’s more, according to the New York Times, other countries like South Korea have been quick to alter their trade pacts with the U.S. in order to comply with the White House’s new, aggressive economic policies.
(Via Wall Street Journal)