White House Economist Sees New Trump-China Trade Talks, Maybe

Senior adviser Larry Kudlow said no deal is imminent, but the president is willing to talk significant issues

Image Credit: SAUL LOEB / AFP / Getty Images

President Donald Trump might soon be speaking with Chinese President Xi Jinping amid their two countries’ tense trade relationship at the upcoming G20 Summit, White House National Economic Council Director Larry Kudlow said Monday.

“I think there’s discussions going on, but no, I wouldn’t say it was imminent,” Kudlow said during an interview on the Fox Business Network. “I would say, frankly, as the president has said, he’s not been satisfied with the progress of those talks. Really hasn’t been much progress recently.

“He has admiration for President Xi and they may, may perhaps meet at the G20 in Buenos Aires later this year, but no, nothing is imminent on China. But we are willing to talk if it’s substantial and significant and serious, always willing to talk.”

“We’ve made our ‘asks’ on market openings and tariff reductions and so forth, on technology transfers and IP theft. We’ve made our ‘ask,’ but we haven’t had anything back.”

Trump announced a new United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) Monday to replace the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), which has been in force since 1994.

China has been highly criticized by the president for its trade practices as he has attempted to rework established agreements. His administration has imposed multiple tariffs on the country this year, with the latest being a 10 percent tariff on $200 billion worth of imported goods. China was already hit with $50 billion worth of tariffs earlier this year.

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Related: Trump Touts New Trade Deal with Canada and Mexico

“The conversations have not been sufficiently detailed for me to make a comment on that,” Kudlow said. “It’s not about concessions or accommodations, at this point, I’m not sure what is. We’ve made our ‘asks’ on market openings and tariff reductions and so forth, on technology transfers and IP theft. We’ve made our ‘ask,’ but we haven’t had anything back.”

Trump said during a White House news conference to announce the USMCA that it is too soon to talk about trade with China, but he added that China’s weakening stock markets is evidence that the pressure he is applying is working.

For now, China continues to hold its ground. Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said his country will not be forced into a new trade agreement with the U.S. during a speech Friday at the United Nations.

The USMCA includes provisions to create a standard legal framework, strengthen trade relationships, ensure small businesses benefit, foster worker and labor rights, and protect the environment. Trump said he expects the agreement to be approved by officials for all three countries within two months.

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