White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow said Sunday the United States “never agreed” to a deal that China reduce its trade surplus by $200 billion to resolve a trade dispute.
In an interview on ABC News’ “This Week,” the director of the National Economic Council declared “there's no agreement for a deal” and “we never anticipated one.”
“There's a communique between the two great countries. That's all,” Kudlow declared.
On Thursday, it was reported China offered President Donald Trump a $200 billion reduction in its annual trade surplus with the United States by increasing imports of American products and other steps. The offer came as Chinese Vice Premier Liu He visited to try to resolve a trade dispute.
The U.S. response was not reported.
On Sunday, Kudlow elaborated on the $200 billion trade deficit figure in the report, however, calling it “a number that interested the president a lot. And both sides... have used that as a rough ballpark estimate.”
In a separate interview on CBS News’ “Face The Nation,” Kudlow said the bottom line is “China must open up.”
“They must become fair traders. They have not been,” he said, adding: “And China has got to stop the theft of intellectual property and the forced transfer of technology. Those are our family jewels. And we can make deals on this...
"The communique makes that very clear that we're going to ... reduce the U.S. trade gap,” he said. “Are we going to get everything? I don't know. But I will say this. We're making terrific progress and I think the meetings here in Washington were very positive."
In the CBS News interview, Kudlow also pushed back on suggestions the administration’s economic policies only benefit the rich.
"Middle income, working folks are already benefitting,” he said. “Wages are rising, jobs are rising, confidence is rising everywhere you look… Trump is getting very high marks on economic growth."
Kudlow also warned that although Trump tweeted that he wanted to find a way to get Chinese telecom equipment maker ZTE back in business,16 it won’t come without strings.
A U.S. blockade has choked off the revenue of the No. 2 Chinese telecom company; it said May 10 it’s suspended all major operations.
"Do not, please, do not expect ZTE to get off scott-free,” Kudlow said. “Ain’t gonna happen.”
"President Xi [Jinping] asked President Trump to take another look at it,” he said. “It's an enforcement action. A legal enforcement action. The process [is] being run by the Commerce and Justice department[s]. I don't know how this is going to turn out. Let me just say, if any of the remedies are altered, they're still going be very, very tough..."
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