Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Sunday that the decision whether to impose new tariffs on China will largely depend on President Donald Trump’s meeting later this month with China’s Xi Jinping.
Mnuchin pointed out that after the two leaders meet at the G20 summit in Japan, Trump will determine whether Xi is ready to move “in the right direction” on a trade deal with the U.S. to resolve issues in the relationship between the two countries and reshape their economic ties.
“We’re going to need to see action, and President Trump is going to need to make sure he’s clear that we’re moving in the right direction to a deal,” the Treasury secretary told CNBC’s Nancy Hungerford. “The president will make a decision after the meeting.”
Mnuchin then noted that the United States was prepared to move ahead with a deal if China is willing to do the same. Otherwise, he said, the President would not hesitate to slap new tariffs on China.
Trump’s last meeting with Xi in December 2018 resulted in the de-escalation of the trade war and an agreement between the two leaders to suspend planned increases in tariffs. Since then, the two sides boosted efforts to renegotiate a deal, but not much progress has been made so far.
Last month, President Trump announced on Twitter that his country would impose a new batch of duties on $200 billion worth of Chinese goods, threatening even more to come. Both Trump and U.S. officials claimed at the time that the decision was a result of China’s attempts to renegotiate parts of a deal the two countries had previously agreed upon.
“We made enormous progress, I think we had a deal that was almost 90% done. China wanted to go backwards on certain things. We’ve stopped negotiating,” Mnuchin said, again stressing that the summit in Osaka, Japan will decide the future of the trade negotiations.
He did not say what his expectations were regarding the meeting, noting only that trade negotiators from both sides won’t meet before the summit.