President Donald Trump’s leading trade war mediator U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer said that the U.S. is making “headway” on problems it considers essential, including its desire for China to make deep structural modifications to its state-driven financial system.
Arbitrators are working constantly, and the last file will be extremely in-depth, perhaps running as long as 120 pages, he continued.
Lighthizer explained, “In terms of timeframe, our hope is that we’re in the final weeks of having an agreement, but I’m not predicting one,” adding, “there still are major, major issues that have to be resolved. And if those issues are not resolved in a way that’s beneficial to the United States, we will not have an agreement.”
Any deal must be enforceable or Trump will not sign it, he noted.
China is pressing for the U.S. to remove tariffs troubled its items in 2015 following a USTR probe into Beijing’s copyright practices called an Area 301 investigation, stated the trade chief.
“The focus of the negotiation from the Chinese side is the removing of 301 tariffs,” stated Lighthizer. China is also asking for “specific market access provisions that we also are considering.”
The United States will need to keep the lid of tariffs on Chinese items for several years even if Washington and Beijing strike an offer to end a costly tariff war, President Donald Trump’s primary trade mediator informed legislators on Wednesday.
Lighthizer warned that much work was still required to nail down a U.S.-China trade arrangement, including working out how it will be implemented.
“If we can complete this effort – and again I say if … we might be able to have an agreement that helps us turn the corner in our economic relationship with China,” Lighthizer testified to the U.S. House Ways and Means Committee.
The trade war saga continues …
While Mr. Trump and other leading financial consultants like Steven Mnuchin, the Treasury secretary, and Larry Kudlow, the director of the National Economic Council, have revealed optimism that an offer is close, Mr. Lighthizer has been even more careful in his evaluation of the settlements.
Last month, Mr. Mnuchin mentioned in the Oval Office that a contract was reached on currency, however, Mr. Lighthizer said that while there had actually been progress on that front, nothing had actually been finalized.
“Nothing is ever done until everything is done,” he said.