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Trump says US-China trade deal may be too hard to get done

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President Donald Trump said a trade agreement with China may be “too hard to get done” and that the world’s two largest economies may need to change their framework for a deal.

[WASHINGTON] President Donald Trump said a trade agreement with China may be “too hard to get done” and that the world’s two largest economies may need to change their framework for a deal.

"Our Trade Deal with China is moving along nicely, but in the end we will probably have to use a different structure in that this will be too hard to get done and to verify results after completion," Mr Trump said on Twitter on Wednesday.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said on Sunday the administration agreed to put proposed tariffs on hold while it builds on a “framework” for negotiations with China on trade issues, following two days of high level negotiations in Washington. The nations didn’t provide any details of the deal and put no dollar target for reducing the trade imbalance.

Mr Trump showed waning enthusiasm for the deal on Tuesday, saying he wasn’t pleased with the recent trade talks with China that were just getting started. The president is coming under fire from both Republican and Democratic lawmakers for considering softer sanctions on ZTE Corp, which have crippled the Chinese telecommunications company.

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Mr Trump said he was doing Chinese President Xi Jinping a personal favor by ordering a review of a seven-year ban preventing US suppliers from selling key components to ZTE because it violated sanctions law. Mr Trump said on Tuesday the US may instead require that ZTE appoint a new board of directors and pay “very large fine” of perhaps US$1.3 billion.

Mr Mnuchin earlier Tuesday said that the US didn’t mean to “put ZTE out of business” by penalizing the company over breaking the sanctions, while adding that any revised remedy will take into account “the very important national-security issues.”

US Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross plans to visit Beijing in early June to work out the details of a broad commitment from China to increase its purchases of American goods - particularly of energy and farming goods, his office said on Tuesday. A scheduled Ross appearance early Wednesday at a Heritage Foundation trade event in Washington was canceled, organizers said.

Mr Trump threatened tariffs on as much as $150 billion in Chinese imports after US Trade Representative’s office earlier this year concluded that Beijing violates American intellectual-property rights. China vowed to retaliate in kind, sparking fear of a trade war.

The agreement at least delays a trade war, a prospect that has rattled financial markets for months. But many US concerns about China’s economic practices remain unresolved: its acquisition of American technologies; the country’s plans to subsidize the growth of advanced domestic industries such as artificial intelligence and clean energy; and US companies’ access to China’s markets.

REUTERS

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