Senior Trump administration officials will push China to address a wide range of trade irritants when they visit the Asian nation in coming days, a top economic adviser to the president said.
“It’s going to cover a broad area. All of the disputes will be discussed,” Larry Kudlow, director of the White House’s National Economic Council, said in an interview Thursday with CNBC. Kudlow said he will join a delegation that’s expected to include Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer.
President Donald Trump said this week his officials would visit China within days, adding that there’s a “very good chance” the two countries can reach a deal.
Kudlow said the U.S. wants to discuss China’s unfair trading practices and “technology-related issues,” among other things. “They have barriers and tariffs. We’d like to have some market openings,” he said. “I have high hopes for this. I’m always the optimist about this.”
Experts in U.S.-China relations have expressed skepticism the trip will yield a breakthrough in the brewing trade dispute between the world’s two biggest economies. Trump has proposed tariffs on up to $150 billion in Chinese imports, while Beijing has vowed to retaliate on everything from American soybeans to airplanes.
Kudlow reiterated the administration’s view that “China is the problem” in the trade spat. “The reason we’re going over to negotiate is China has not played by the rules in many years,” he said.
The administration exempted the European Union, Canada, Mexico, Brazil and other countries from its recent tariffs on steel and aluminum shipments, though the exclusions expire May 1. Kudlow said the U.S. wants concessions before it gives a more permanent exclusion to Europe. “One of the issues cropping up is the equal treatment of automobiles,” he said.
Kudlow said Apple Inc. Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook expressed support for last year’s Republican tax cut in a visit to the White House on Wednesday. “He says it’s great for business, and Apple is going to be building plants, campuses, adding jobs.”
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