U.S. Trade Team to Head Back to China After Agreement to Reduce Trade Deficit

US President Donald Trump (R) and China's President Xi Jinping (L) arrive at a business leaders event inside the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on November 9, 2017. Donald Trump urged Chinese leader Xi Jinping to work 'hard' and act fast to help resolve the North Korean nuclear …
NICOLAS ASFOURI/AFP/Getty
Washington, DC

U.S. trade negotiators will head back to China to work out details of an agreement between the two nations reached during continued trade negotiations this week resulted in a joint framework to reduce the U.S. trade deficit with China.

“There was a consensus on taking effective measures to substantially reduce the United States trade deficit in goods with China,” read a portion of the release.

Trade negotiations between U.S. and Chinese officials on Thursday and Friday of the past week in Washington, DC were a continuation of talks they began two weeks ago in Beijing. The talks this week, however, included fewer of the U.S. officials. Treasury Sec. Steve Mnuchin again led the talks that included Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross and U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, according to the release. The Beijing-based talks had also included Assistant to the President for Economic Policy Larry Kudlow, and Assistant to the President for Trade and Manufacturing Policy Peter Navarro.

Chinese Vice Premier Liu He led the Special Envoy of President Xi in D.C.

“To meet the growing consumption needs of the Chinese people and the need for high-quality economic development, China will significantly increase purchases of United States goods and services,” the White House statement continued. “This will help support growth and employment in the United States.”

The officials agreed to “meaningful increases in United States agriculture and energy exports.” The details of this will be worked out in a future U.S. trade delegation trip to China. The sides also discussed the expansion of trade in manufactured goods and services. “There was consensus on the need to create favorable conditions to increase trade in these areas.”

Trump has repeatedly lamented the massive U.S. trade deficit with China. In early March he imposed tariffs on almost all imports of steel and aluminum to the U.S., addressing China’s steel dumping practices and the threat to U.S. national security.

In early April Trump put it to U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer to look in to the possibility of imposing $50 billion in tariffs on Chinese imports to the U.S. The Chinese had fired back with threats of equal tariffs on U.S. exports to China which were met with increased warnings of up to $150 billion in U.S. tariffs on Chinese imports.

President Xi showed signs of relenting, but the White House was clear that they would need to see “concrete actions from China” before relenting on potential tariffs.

Then in early May came the U.S. trade delegation’s journey to China for trade negotiations. Sec. Mnuchin led the delegation that included Sec. Ross, Trade Representative Lighthizer, Assistant to the President for Economic Policy Larry Kudlow, and Assistant to the President for Trade and Manufacturing Policy Peter Navarro. Kudlow later told Breitbart News radio listeners that the delegation did not expect a trade deal by the end of the Beijing-based talks and that he expected the process to be a “lengthy” one.

The U.S. has been clear that it expects to see improvements in protections of U.S. intellectual property in China. To that effect, the White House release following this week’s D.C.-based negotiations stated, “Both sides attach paramount importance to intellectual property protections, and agreed to strengthen cooperation. China will advance relevant amendments to its laws and regulations in this area, including the Patent Law.”

Both sides also “agreed to encourage two-way investment and to strive to create a fair, level playing field for competition” and “to continue to engage at high levels on these issues and to seek to resolve their economic and trade concerns in a proactive manner.”

It was not clear in Saturday’s White House statement when a delegation would return to China for the continued talks on reducing the U.S. trade deficit with China.

Follow Michelle Moons on Twitter @MichelleDiana 

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