Argentina denies White House claim that it agrees with US over ‘predatory’ China trade policies, saying that was just Sarah Huckabee Sanders’ own view

  • White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders had said Argentina’s views were in line with Trump’s regarding China’s trade practices
PUBLISHED : Saturday, 01 December, 2018, 12:06am
UPDATED : Saturday, 01 December, 2018, 11:28pm

An Argentine government official rejected a claim by US President Donald Trump’s spokeswoman on Friday at the Group of 20 meeting in Buenos Aires that Argentina agreed with the US’ view that China’s trade practices were predatory.

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, who had accompanied Trump to the breakfast meeting with Argentine President Mauricio Macri on Friday morning, said at the end of the meeting that Argentina’s views were in line with Trump’s regarding China’s trade practices.

“The two leaders reiterated their shared commitment to face regional challenges like Venezuela and predatory Chinese economic activity,” Sanders said.

But the Argentine official told the South China Morning Post: “That comment was not coordinated with the Argentinian government and it was not representative of Argentina’s view. It only reflected the person’s own view.”

“We value our relationship with China very much and have a very important commercial relationship with China,” said the official, who asked not to be named because he wasn’t authorised to speak publicly about the issue.

Representatives from Argentina and China were scheduled to meet to discuss a number of deals that were expected to be announced at the end of the G20 summit, the official said.

The official said the agreements included a China-financed nuclear programme that would build a fourth nuclear power plant in Argentina that reportedly could cost about US$8 billion, and a currency swap that would double Argentina’s credit line to US$18.7 billion, making China the biggest non-institutional lender of the country.

Meanwhile, Trump expressed optimism about cutting a deal with China even as Sanders asserted that Washington was aligned with the G20 host country against Beijing’s policies.

“We’re working very hard. If we can make a deal that would be good. I think they want to, I think we’d like to,” Trump told White House reporters in Buenos Aires on Friday. “There’s some good signs. We’ll see what happens.”

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A Chinese foreign ministry briefing scheduled for 2.45pm local time, according to an official agenda distributed to G20 reporters, was not convened.

Asked about the briefing listed on the media agenda, Wang Xiaolong, the ministry official expected to conduct it, replied: “Nobody told me about this.”

Pressed for details on his delegation’s position on progress towards resolving differences with Washington, Wang said: “The agreement part is growing ... but there are still some differences for now. We will see the result tomorrow.”

Trump-Xi G20 dinner unlikely to end in joint statement

Wang is director general of the foreign ministry’s department of international economic affairs.

Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping and their aides are scheduled to have a high-stakes dinner meeting on Saturday.

Additional reporting by the SCMP’s Zhou Xin and Andrew Restuccia of POLITICO