Five top Trump administration officials are returning from two days of trade meetings with officials in China, bringing with them the message that the administration needs to give “immediate attention” to changing the U.S.-China trade and investment relationship.
Treasury Sec. Steve Mnuchin led the delegation that included Commerce Sec. Wilbur Ross, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, Assistant to the President for Economic Policy Larry Kudlow, and Assistant to the President for Trade and Manufacturing Policy Peter Navarro. The meetings occured on Thursday and Friday.
The White House called the discussions between Chinese officials and the U.S. trade delegation “frank.” The two sides discussed “rebalancing the United States-China bilateral economic relationship, improving China’s protection of intellectual property, and identifying policies that unfairly enforce technology transfers.”
U.S. officials stressed to the Chinese the assertion that “fair trade will lead to faster growth for the Chinese, United States, and world economies.”
“There is consensus within the Administration that immediate attention is needed to bring changes to United States-China trade and investment relationship,” according to a White House statement on the talks.
The trip came at the invitation of China’s Vice Premier Liu He and at President Trump’s direction. U.S. Ambassador Terry Branstad joined the delegation in Beijing.
The Trump trade team was given the mandate “fight like hell” as they departed on the trip, someone briefed on the matter told Breitbart News this week. The person deemed the team the “trade avengers.”
President Trump has repeatedly emphasized the massive U.S. trade deficit with China and problems with theft of U.S. intellectual property. In March he signed a presidential memorandum to protect against this theft and Chinese economic aggression.
In an early April meeting with reporters, Kudlow revealed that when it comes to U.S.-China trade relations and possible tariffs, the administration was weighing providing “a list of suggestions to China as to what we would like to have come out of this.” The meeting came just hours after news broke that Trump was considering $100 billion in tariffs on Chinese imports. He said he asked Chinese President Xi to “reduce the trade deficit immediately by 100 billion dollars.”
Trump told reporters on Friday, before boarding Marine One for a trip to Texas, “We’re going to have some incredible trade deals announced.” He noted the trade delegation’s return, affirming, “We will be doing something, one way or the other, with respect to what’s happening in China.”
“I have great respect for President Xi. That’s why we’re being so nice,” Trump told the reporters. “We have a great relationship. But we have to bring fairness into trade between the U.S. and China. And we’ll do it.”
The U.S. trade delegation is returning home, where they will brief the President. Trump is expected to direct them on next steps in the matter.
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