FLASH: President Trump declared a victory after Washington and Mexico agreed on measures to stem the flow of Central American migrants into the United States.
President Trump called off plans to impose a 5% tax on Mexican exports, and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, speaking to reporters Saturday in Fukuoka on the sidelines of a meeting of financial leaders of the G-20 major economies, urged China to follow suit and return to stalled negotiations.
Secretary Mnuchin said he planned to have a private conversation with the head of China’s central bank, Yi Gang. In a G-20 group meeting later in the day, the 2 were seen exchanging friendly remarks, but there were no new signs Beijing is ready to compromise in the dispute over trade and technology.
“From our perspective of where we are now, it is a result of them backtracking on significant commitments,” Secretary Mnuchin said. “I don’t think it is a breakdown in trust or good or bad faith. … If they want to come back and complete the deal on the terms we were negotiating, that would be great.”
Secretary Mnuchin said he had no direct message to give to Yi, who has participated in the 11 rounds of talks so far on resolving the dispute between the world’s 2 largest economies over technology and trade.
He said there were no plans for trade talks in Washington or Beijing before Presidents Trump and Xi are due to meet in Osaka for the G-20 Summit on 28-29 June.
“This will be a 1-on-1 with Gov. Yi to talk alone about the trade issues,” Secretary Mnuchin said. But he added, “I would expect the main progress will be at the G-20 meetings of the Presidents.”
The deal with Mexico helps alleviate uncertainty over the deal Washington recently reached on revising the North American Free Trade Agreement. The new US-Mexico-Canada deal has been heading toward a vote in Congress and might have been stymied by new tariffs. But the US is still negotiating new trade deals with Japan after withdrawing from a Pacific Rim arrangement, the Hussein Obama-era proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP)
The United States now is imposing 25% tariffs on $250-B in Chinese goods. And the US side has been preparing to expand retaliatory tariff hikes of 25% on another $300-B of Chinese products, and Secretary Mnuchin indicated it was prepared to take that step if negotiations with Beijing fail. But he said President Trump had not yet made a decision on that, suggesting room for further delays depending on the outcome of his discussion with President Xi later this month.
“As the President has said, if we can get the right agreement, that’s great. If we can’t, we will proceed with tariffs,” he said.
Have a terrific weekend
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