Lighthizer and Mnuchin Say China Reneged in Trade Talks

Chinese Vice Premier Liu He (R) gestures as US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin (C) chats with US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer in Beijing on May 1, 2019

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and U.S. Trade Rep. Robert Lighthizer provided more details on Monday about the recent turn in trade negotiations with China that led to President Donald Trump announcing over the weekend that tariffs would be hiked this Friday.

Mnuchin said that the talks changed direction over the weekend, describing China as moving “substantially backward.”

Lighthizer said that China is “reneging” on commitments it made in earlier talks, according to multiple reports from journalists briefed by the two men Monday afternoon.

“Over the course of the last week or so, we’ve seen an erosion in commitments by China, I would say retreating from commitments that have already been made, in our judgment,” Lighthizer said, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Lighthizer also said that he would be filing a notice in the federal register about the tariff increase, adding that the tariffs would take effect immediately on Friday, according to Jonathan Swan of Axios.

The joint briefing by Mnuchin, often considered an advocate of a softer approach to China, and Lighthizer, one of the administration’s strongest China hawks, appeared to be aimed at sending the message that the Trump administration is not divided on the subject of the new tariffs in response to China changing stance in the trade talks.

It is also likely to quell speculation that Trump’s announcement of tariffs were mere “threats” or negotiating tactics rather than a firm policy decision.

Several journalists present at the briefing tweeted details.




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