Clete Willems, a former trade adviser to President Donald Trump, said in an interview Tuesday that he believes the U.S. and China will reach a deal to end their trade war but that it should not be expected at the G20 summit in Japan due later this month.
“There won’t be a deal at the G-20,” he told CNBC’s Capital Exchange event in Washington, noting, however, that the event could serve to speed up a possible deal.
President Donald Trump said Monday that if his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping does not meet with him at the summit, the United States would slap another $300 billion worth of tariffs on imports from China.
Willems said he was “bullish” on the prospects of a trade deal between the world’s two largest economies, just not over the next month. The summit could “catalyze a productive period of negotiations where the deal closes” in the next three to six months, he added.
His highly optimistic forecast comes amid an impasse in trade negotiations between Washington and Beijing and shortly after the two sides imposed new tariffs on each other’s products. President Trump has threatened additional tariffs if no deal is reached, saying, “The China deal is going to work out. You know why? Because of tariffs.”
Willems also deemed a meeting between Trump and Xi “a necessary ingredient at this point” for negotiations to move in the desired direction.
Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross made similar comments earlier in the day when he expressed confidence that the situation will result in negotiations. “Even shooting wars end in negotiations,” he noted.
Willems also stressed that despite the standstill in trade talks, there are positive signs of progress, including Xi calling President Trump “my friend.” He further sees the U.S.-Mexico deal signed last Friday as another good sign for negotiations with China.