WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said on Wednesday he will likely travel to China soon to continue talks as Washington and Beijing seek to resolve a trade war that has cast a pall over the global economy and financial markets.
U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin testifies before a Senate Appropriations subcommittee on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.
S. May 15, 2019. REUTERS/Jonathan ErnstMnuchin did not elaborate on the timing of future negotiations but characterized two days of high-level talks with Chinese officials in Washington last week as constructive. “My expectation is that we will go to Beijing at some point in the near future to continue those discussions,” he said in a U.
S. Senate Appropriations subcommittee hearing. “We’re continuing discussions. There’s still a lot of work to do.” Mnuchin’s remarks dovetailed with a cooling of the Trump administration’s rhetoric toward China after another round of tit-for-tat tariffs between the world’s two largest economies and a selloff on global stock markets.
(Graphic: Trickle down tariffs - tmsnrt.rs/2WIu31i) On Tuesday, U.S. President Donald Trump denied the talks with China had collapsed and sounded an optimistic note about the chance of a deal to end the trade war, saying he had an “extraordinary” relationship with Chinese President Xi Jinping.
Trump, who plans to meet Xi at a G20 summit in Japan next month, also urged China to buy more U.S. farm products. U.S. agricultural goods, including soybeans, have been targeted by China’s retaliatory tariffs, and American farmers, a key political constituency for Trump, are frustrated with the failure of the two sides to find a solution to the dispute.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture has paid out $8.52 billion directly to farmers as part of a 2018 aid program designed to offset losses from trade tariffs by China and other trading partners, a spokesman for the agency said on Wednesday. The Trump administration had pledged up to $12 billion in aid to help offset losses for crops hit by Chinese tariffs.
TARIFF PAIN Amid complaints from trading partners in Europe and North America, who see the United States as having embraced a “carrot-and-stick” strategy that has been thin on carrots, the Trump administration may be signaling a softer approach. In the hearing on Wednesday, Mnuchin said the United States is close to resolving a dispute over steel and aluminum tariffs that were imposed on Canada and Mexico last year as the three countries renegotiated the North American Free Trade Agreement.
U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer met with Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland in Washington on Wednesday to discuss those tariffs, which have aggravated Ottawa and Mexico City, and other issues related to the U.S.-Mexico Canada Agreement (USMCA), the replacement for NAFTA. The three countries have not yet ratified the new deal.