Mnuchin says enforcement part of US-China deal ‘close to done’

HONG KONG • The next round of China-US trade talks will get under way in Beijing this week with significant issues still unresolved, but with enforcement mechanisms “close to done”, US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said.

“There are still some important issues. We still have more work to do,” Mnuchin said in an interview on Fox Business.

“If we get to a completed agreement it will have real enforcement provisions,” he said, adding that those provisions are “close to done” and only need “a little bit of fine tuning”.

While both sides are eager to reach an agreement, the possibility remains that US President Donald Trump would walk away from the negotiating table with China if he isn’t satisfied with how talks are progressing, according to a senior Trump administration official who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Mnuchin are scheduled to begin talks in Beijing today with Chinese Vice Premier Liu He.

Discussions will cover trade issues including intellectual property, forced technology transfer, non-tariff barriers, agriculture, services, purchases and enforcement, according to a White House statement.

Mnuchin said there is a strong desire from both sides to wrap this up quickly or move on. “We hope within the next two rounds in China and in DC to be at the point where we can either recommend to the the president we have a deal or make a recommendation that we don’t,” he said in a taped interview broadcast yesterday on the Fox programme “Mornings with Maria”.

After the meeting in Beijing, Liu will then lead a Chinese delegation to Washington for additional discussions starting on May 8. Negotiators have indicated they are close to a deal and Trump last week said Chinese President Xi Jinping will come to the White House “soon”. — Bloomberg