US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said US and Chinese trade negotiators are working on nailing down a Phase 1 trade deal text for their presidents to sign next month, Reuters said.
Mnuchin, in a wide-ranging news conference at the Treasury, said there was no invitation from Beijing for another high-level meeting with Vice Premier Liu He on the trade deal outlined last week, but deputies were holding phone conferences this week.
“As of now, there’s no invitation and there’s no plan” for a high-level meeting. “That doesn’t mean we won’t go,” he said.
Mnuchin said it is likely that he and US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer will meet with Liu in Santiago, Chile, before US President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping are due to meet at a Nov. 16-17 summit of Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation countries.
Mnuchin said the Trump administration’s “objective” is for the agreement to be signed at the APEC summit.
The Treasury chief, who has played a central role in the US-China trade negotiations, dismissed suggestions that China has not agreed with the United States on the substance of the initial phase outlined by Trump last Friday.
He also said the Trump administration has made no decision on how to address planned 10 percent tariffs on US$156 billion of Chinese goods due to take effect on Dec. 15 after opting not to proceed with a tariff rate increase slated for Tuesday.
“We have not gone to the president with any recommendation or any decision – obviously what we were all focused on was the October tariffs,” Mnuchin said. “We’ll address that as we continue to have conversations.”
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