China-US relations

From 100 days to 365: China, US need long-term plan to settle trade disputes, says Mnuchin

Steven Mnuchin calls for one-year cycle of negotiations to ensure results of talks are put into practice

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 07 June, 2017, 1:06pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 06 July, 2017, 11:31pm

China and the US should build on their initial consensus, and come up with a long-term plan to settle their trade disputes, a senior US official said on Wednesday.

US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said the two sides had to enter a “one-year cycle of negotiations” to ensure the outcomes of talks were put into practice.

The two nations announced some initial results of their trade talks on May 12, including China agreeing to let in US beef, natural gas and financial services by mid-July, when the two sides are scheduled to wrap up a 100-day action plan to improve trade ties during high-level talks in Washington, co-chaired by Mnuchin and US Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross from the US side.

“We are working on a 100-day plan, and we are also working on a one-year plan. We both acknowledge that there are certain things we want to change, and that could take some period of time,” Mnuchin said at an annual meeting of the US-China Business Council on Wednesday.

“Our objective is to increase our exports [into China’s markets],” Mnuchin added. “We want to make sure that their markets are ultimately as open to us as our markets are open to them.”

Beijing, US reach trade deal to boost American imports to China in wake of Xi-Trump summit

The 100-day action plan was conducted under the Comprehensive Economic Dialogue, one of the four pillars of the newly established dialogue mechanisms launched at the first face-to-face summit between US President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping in early April.

Trump reversed his tough rhetoric of waging a trade war against China during the summit, saying he had “great chemistry” with Xi. Since then, the two sides have been engaging in negotiations as the Trump administration demands a reciprocal trade relationship.

The US trade deficit in goods with China ballooned by 13.8 per cent year-on-year, while the nation’s overall trade deficit increased by 5 per cent since March, monthly data released last Friday by the US Commerce Department showed.

US-China trade deal isn’t the breakthrough Trump claims, but it’s a start

Following the data release, Ross said the while the overall trade deficit continued to grow, it was too early for the numbers to reflect how the recent deals announced by China and the US would level the balance of trade.

Mnuchin said the US was monitoring the economic situation of China and had found nothing of concern in the near term.

The two nations were also negotiating on a bilateral investment treaty, but Mnuchin said it was not on the top of the agenda.

“We are not looking to negotiate a large agreement, we are looking to negotiate very specific issues that deal with market fairness. That’s really our focus. Once we make progress on that, we can turn to the bilateral investment agreement,” he said.