Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin will head to China next week in an attempt to settle trade disputes and thaw tensions with the Asian country after the Trump administration levied steep tariffs on China over its steel and aluminum exports to the U.S., The Wall Street Journal reports.
"I think we've got a very good chance of making a deal," said President Donald Trump, who called China's leader Xi Jinping "a friend of mine," but noted there were still deal barriers.
"They trade with us," the president said. "We can’t trade with them."
Mnuchin will travel with U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, National Economic Council director Larry Kudlow, and White House trade adviser Peter Navarro.
The United States and China have each proposed imposing tariffs of $50 billion on each other's products after the Trump administration's "Section 301" investigation into China's business practices; Trump is looking to impose tariffs up to $100 billion more on Chinese goods and reiterated plans to do so Tuesday.
Mnuchin has expressed optimism differences can be settled without a trade war, telling reporters Sunday he was "cautiously optimistic."
The U.S. is simply looking to protect American jobs from unfair competition, he added.
"The president has been very clear on what our objectives are," Mnuchin said. "We are looking for reciprocal treatment. This is not about protectionism."
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