Donald Trump to send high-level US delegation to China for trade talks

US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer will travel soon to Beijing for ‘substantive’ discussions, the president said

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 25 April, 2018, 5:56am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 25 April, 2018, 6:28am

US President Donald Trump plans to send Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer to Beijing for “substantive” trade discussions in the wake of tit-for-tat tariff threats between the countries.  

“We’re having Secretary Mnuchin and a couple of other folks heading over to – Bob Lighthizer – heading over to China, at the request of China,” Trump said in a joint news conference with French President Emmanuel Macron on Tuesday at the White House.

“We’re having very substantive discussions on trade. I believe the trade will work out, but I also think that China has never treated us with more respect than they have over the last short period of time that I’m president.” 

Trump’s comments follow his announcement this month of a raft of punitive tariffs targeting some US$50 billion in annual imports from China, measures the president is using to lower a record trade deficit the US has with its largest trading partner. The trade action is scheduled to take effect next month after a period of review and comment by US industries. 

The president didn’t give a timetable for the visit, but The Wall Street Journal reported that the delegation would go to Beijing next week.

Donald Trump tweets praise for China President Xi Jinping after speech eases trade tensions

Trump has also threatened to target an additional US$100 billion worth of Chinese imports, and Beijing has retaliated by announcing tariffs it will impose on more than US$50 billion worth of goods from the US. 

“I have a very excellent, as you know, relationship with President Xi [Jinping], and I think that relationship is very important as to what's happening with North Korea,” Trump said. 

“So the end result is, we'll see,” Trump added. “Maybe good things will happen and maybe we're all wasting a lot of time. But hopefully it will be good for everybody concerned. ”

Mnuchin recently called on the International Monetary Fund and World Bank to address China’s trade practices.

At the spring meeting of the two bodies last week in Washington, the Treasury secretary called on the World Bank to steer cheap loans away from China and toward poorer countries as part of an international effort address policies that “impede stronger US and global growth, acting as a persistent drag on the global economy”, Mnuchin said.

He appealed for the IMF to go beyond its traditional role as an emergency lender for countries in financial distress and said it should more closely monitor the practices of countries that persistently run large trade surpluses.

“The IMF must step up to the plate on this issue, providing a more robust voice,” Mnuchin said. “We urge the IMF to speak out more forcefully on the issue of external imbalances. ”