U.S. Treasury Secretary Mnuchin weighs lifting tariffs on China

U.S. Treasury Secretary Mnuchin weighs lifting tariffs on China

WASHINGTON – Reuters
U.S. Treasury Secretary Mnuchin weighs lifting tariffs on China

U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin discussed lifting some or all tariffs imposed on Chinese imports and suggested offering a tariff rollback during trade discussions scheduled for Jan. 30, the Wall Street Journal has reported, citing people familiar with the internal deliberations.

But Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer has resisted the idea, and the proposal had not yet been introduced to President Donald Trump, according to the Journal.

U.S. stocks advanced on the news even as a Treasury spokesman working with the administration’s trade team denied the report.

“Neither Secretary Mnuchin nor Ambassador Lighthizer have made any recommendations to anyone with respect to tariffs or other parts of the negotiation with China,” the spokesman said. “This an ongoing process with the Chinese that is nowhere near completion.”

Chinese Vice Premier Liu He will visit the United States on Jan. 30 and 31 for the latest round of trade talks aimed at resolving a bitter trade dispute between the world’s two largest economies.

In December, Washington and Beijing agreed to a 90-day truce in a trade war that has disrupted the flow of hundreds of billions of dollars of goods.

Meanwhile, Germany and China on Jan. 18 signed agreements to strengthen coordination in banking, finance and capital markets, and pledged to further open market access and deepen their pragmatic cooperation to broaden economic ties.

The agreements were made at the close of a two-day visit by German Finance Minister Olaf Scholz to Beijing for talks with Liu, who is President Xi Jinping’s top economic adviser.

Both sides reaffirm that “they will strengthen macroeconomic policy coordination and pragmatic cooperation in the fiscal and financial fields and expand strategic cooperation,” according to a joint statement issued at the end of their talks.

The agreement said they will make joint efforts to improve international economic governance, maintain the global multilateral system, combat trade protectionism and support the rule-based multilateral trading system with the World Trade Organization as its center.

On a related note, China’s statistics bureau on Jan. 18 revised down its final 2017 gross domestic product (GDP) growth to 6.8 percent from 6.9 percent, after scaling back initial estimates of the industrial and services sector.

The National Bureau of Statistics revised the final 2017 GDP to 82.08 trillion yuan ($12.11 trillion), down 636.7 billion yuan from the preliminary number.

The latest Reuters poll has forecast full-year growth of 6.6 percent for 2018 and 6.3 percent this year.

US tariffs, China, Steven Mnuchin