Mnuchin: Trump could tolerate NAFTA vote slipping into 2019

President Donald Trump is more interested in striking a good deal with Canada and Mexico, than quickly finishing NAFTA talks to get a vote in Congress this year, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Sunday.

"The president is more determined to have a good deal than he’s worried about any deadline," Mnuchin said in an interview on "Fox News Sunday."

"So, whether we pass it in this Congress or we pass it in the new Congress, the president is determined that we renegotiate NAFTA."

Still, that doesn’t mean Trump will not follow through on threats to withdraw from the pact or take other action, if he decides that is the best option, Mnuchin indicated.

"He has all his alternatives. I’m just saying right now we’re focused on negotiating a good deal and we’re not focused on specific deadlines," Mnuchin said. "We’re still far apart, but we’re working everyday to Continue reading “Mnuchin: Trump could tolerate NAFTA vote slipping into 2019”

Mnuchin: Trump could tolerate NAFTA vote slipping into 2019

President Donald Trump is more interested in striking a good deal with Canada and Mexico, than quickly finishing NAFTA talks to get a vote in Congress this year, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Sunday.

"The president is more determined to have a good deal than he’s worried about any deadline," Mnuchin said in an interview on "Fox News Sunday."

"So, whether we pass it in this Congress or we pass it in the new Congress, the president is determined that we renegotiate NAFTA."

Still, that doesn’t mean Trump will not follow through on threats to withdraw from the pact or take other action, if he decides that is the best option, Mnuchin indicated.

"He has all his alternatives. I’m just saying right now we’re focused on negotiating a good deal and we’re not focused on specific deadlines," Mnuchin said. "We’re still far apart, but we’re working everyday to Continue reading “Mnuchin: Trump could tolerate NAFTA vote slipping into 2019”

After talks, China makes vague pledge to buy more U.S. products

China has promised to buy significantly more U.S. agriculture and energy products to help cut the U.S. trade deficit, according to a vague joint statement released Saturday by the two governments after two days of talks in Washington.

The statement did not say how much more China would buy or how soon the purchases would take place, and did not indicate whether the United States would back down from plans to impose tariffs on billions of dollars of Chinese goods or remove penalties already imposed on steel and aluminum.

"To meet the growing consumption needs of the Chinese people and the need for high-quality economic development, China will significantly increase purchases of United States goods and services," the U.S.-China joint statement said. "This will help support growth and employment in the United States. Both sides agreed on meaningful increases in United States agriculture and energy exports. Continue reading “After talks, China makes vague pledge to buy more U.S. products”

Trump faces heat from Congress as China talks continue

Senior U.S. and Chinese officials on Friday dove into a second day of talks aimed at averting a possible trade war, with President Donald Trump facing increasing criticism from Congress over his plan to roll back sanctions on Chinese telecommunications giant ZTE as part of any agreement.

A Chinese foreign ministry spokesman in Beijing denied reports overnight that China had offered a package to cut the U.S. trade deficit by $200 billion annually. However, a person briefed on the discussions said the teams did discuss a plan for China to buy up to $200 billion in American goods, though the exact time frame is unclear. The talks also remain fluid, with no guarantee of success this week, he added.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer weighed in on the negotiations, urging Trump not to accept a Chinese pledge to buy American goods in exchange for dropping a threat to Continue reading “Trump faces heat from Congress as China talks continue”

Ross losing sway with Trump on China

Wilbur Ross has been largely sidelined in high-stakes trade negotiations with China in the latest signal that President Donald Trump is losing confidence in his Commerce secretary, according to three people with knowledge of the matter.

Ross — whom Trump once affectionately called a “killer,” a high compliment in the president’s lexicon — has steadily become a bit player, with the president regularly leaning on Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and White House trade adviser Peter Navarro.

The Commerce secretary’s standing took another hit this week when the president tweeted criticism of the department’s recent decision to block the Chinese phone-maker ZTE from accessing U.S. technology, according to a current administration official and a former official familiar with the internal discussions.

“He’s not a primetime player here,” said one trade strategist closely tracking the administration’s trade discussions.

With Ross marginalized, Mnuchin’s influence with the Continue reading “Ross losing sway with Trump on China”

Xi pledges to welcome imports amid trade tensions with U.S.

Chinese President Xi Jinping promised on Tuesday significant changes that strike at the heart of several of President Donald Trump’s complaints about the nation’s trade and business practices.

In a major speech at the annual Boao Forum for Asia, Xi pledged to reduce tariffs on autos, strengthen protection of intellectual property and mount a drive to boost imports as part of “a new phase of opening up.”

In what may be a direct answer to the escalating tensions with the U.S., Xi said stronger intellectual property protection “is the requirement of foreign enterprises and even more so of Chinese enterprises.”

Xi did not mention Trump by name in his remarks, or Trump’s threat to impose tariffs on Chinese goods. But he repeatedly seemed to be offering an alternative vision of global development to Trump’s more nationalist model.

Trump last week escalated trade tensions by asking his Continue reading “Xi pledges to welcome imports amid trade tensions with U.S.”

How Trump could lose a trade war with China

President Donald Trump’s heavy-handed tactics could alienate global allies and end up handing China a victory in a trade war — even though many world leaders agree that China’s trade tactics should be reformed.

After annoying key trading partners by demanding trade concessions from them, Trump could fail to gather a coalition to exert maximum pressure on Beijing. And without that, China could dodge making significant reforms that would change its long-term trade surplus.

It’s also possible that China could simply outlast the U.S. in a protracted standoff. Its entrenched authoritarian regime doesn’t face the same political risks that Trump does. And Americans could be less willing to suffer higher prices and shortages of consumer goods than the Chinese.

“I think right now that the Chinese are playing this a little more adroitly than the Trump administration,” said Scott Kennedy, a China analyst at the Center for Strategic and Continue reading “How Trump could lose a trade war with China”

China-Trump trade fight spurs market worries

The latest action in the trade fight involving China and the U.S. is sending a fresh shockwave through U.S. markets, which have been worried for months about President Donald Trump’s tough talk on trade.

The move is also causing alarm among agricultural groups and some farm-state politicians who warn that American farmers will be the first to suffer from the crossfire between Beijing and Washington.

“This is a tax on American farmers, brought about by protectionist trade policies," former U.S. Ambassador to China Max Baucus, who now co-chairs the Farmers for Free Trade coalition, said in a statement Monday. "American farmers appear to be the first casualties of an escalating trade war."

Beijing escalated the war of tariffs between China and the U.S. when it announced it would be moving forward with duties on $3 billion in U.S. exports on items like pork, wine Continue reading “China-Trump trade fight spurs market worries”

China-Trump trade fight spurs market worries

The latest action in the trade fight involving China and the U.S. is sending a fresh shockwave through U.S. markets, which have been worried for months about President Donald Trump’s tough talk on trade.

The move is also causing alarm among agricultural groups and some farm-state politicians who warn that American farmers will be the first to suffer from the crossfire between Beijing and Washington.

“This is a tax on American farmers, brought about by protectionist trade policies," former U.S. Ambassador to China Max Baucus, who now co-chairs the Farmers for Free Trade coalition, said in a statement Monday. "American farmers appear to be the first casualties of an escalating trade war."

Beijing escalated the war of tariffs between China and the U.S. when it announced it would be moving forward with duties on $3 billion in U.S. exports on items like pork, wine Continue reading “China-Trump trade fight spurs market worries”

Why steel tariffs failed when Bush was president

When George W. Bush tried to save the steel industry in 2002 by raising tariffs on selected steel products, many Republicans and business groups say the result was a disaster. More jobs were lost than saved. The states he sought to help suffered. And in the end, the tariffs were overturned.

Now, President Donald Trump is considering an even broader action on all steel and aluminum imports. And despite studies showing Bush’s tariffs did more harm than good, the New York businessman appears confident he’ll save jobs, and that the move will be popular with those who put him in office.

History suggests that Trump, too, will be disappointed: At the very least, Bush’s tariffs showed how efforts to help one industry with trade restrictions often anger dozens of others, and alienate longstanding trading partners who feel compelled to strike back. The EU and Japan quickly responded by threatening to Continue reading “Why steel tariffs failed when Bush was president”

U.S. trade deficit hits highest level since 2008

The U.S. trade deficit, which President Donald Trump has repeatedly vowed to reduce or eliminate, rose 5 percent in January to hit $56.6 billion, its highest level since October 2008, when George W. Bush was president, Commerce Department data released Wednesday showed.

The gap, which measures the difference between imports and exports, was higher than during any month of former President Barack Obama’s administration. Trump claims the trade deficit is a result of bad trade deals, but most economists believe it mainly reflects an economy’s strength — and that it tends to rise when times are good.

For example, the U.S. trade gap plummeted from $59.5 billion in October 2008 to $44.1 billion the following month as the early days of the Great Recession took hold. The deficit continued declining and bottomed out at $26.6 billion in June 2009, before it gradually started rising Continue reading “U.S. trade deficit hits highest level since 2008”

Prospects dim for Trump NAFTA victory before midterms

MEXICO CITY — President Donald Trump is running out of time to make good on a high-profile campaign promise to have a reworked NAFTA completed this year with congressional approval.

His chief trade negotiator acknowledged as much on Monday as talks with Mexico and Canada wrapped up here. He ticked off the coming Mexican presidential elections on July 1, elections in Ontario and Quebec and, of course, the looming midterm elections in the U.S. in November.

"We continue to stress the need to act quickly," U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer said during a news conference at the end of the seventh round of talks on revamping the North American Free Trade Agreement.

Trump won election in 2016 vowing to pull out of NAFTA, which took force in 1994, unless Canada and Mexico agreed to renegotiate the pact. His anti-NAFTA message particularly resonated in Rust Belt states like Ohio, Continue reading “Prospects dim for Trump NAFTA victory before midterms”

Trump backs a ‘reciprocal tax’ on imports

President Donald Trump on Monday said he wants to impose a "reciprocal tax" on imports from countries that have higher tariffs than the U.S.

“We are going to charge countries outside of our country — countries that take advantage of the United States," Trump said at a White House meeting with state and local government officials about the administration’s infrastructure plan. "Some of them are so-called allies, but they are not allies on trade.”

Trump seemed to be complaining about the U.S.’ relatively low duty structure when compared with those of some other countries. The average U.S. tariff is about 3.5 percent and the average trade-weighted tariff is even lower at 2.4 percent, according to WTO statistics. In comparison, China’s average tariff is 9.9 percent and its trade-weighted tariff is 4.4 percent.

The trade-weighted average reflects the duties collected on actual Continue reading “Trump backs a ‘reciprocal tax’ on imports”

Trade ‘disaster’ worsens under Trump

President Donald Trump came into office promising to reduce the U.S. trade deficit — and by that measure alone, his first year might be considered a dud.

The U.S. trade deficit increased more than 12 percent in 2017, to $566 billion — its highest level since 2008, according to figures released on Tuesday by the Commerce Department.

The bilateral trade deficit with China rose to a record $375 billion in 2017, and trade gaps with Mexico, Canada and Japan also increased.

During the 2016 campaign, Trump repeatedly zeroed in on the trade deficit, hammering it as a cause of U.S. economic decline and placing the blame on U.S. leaders, whom he accused of worshiping “globalism over Americanism.”

“This is not some natural disaster, it’s a political and politician-made disaster,” he said in a June 2016 speech in Monessen, Pennsylvania. “Very simple. And it can be Continue reading “Trade ‘disaster’ worsens under Trump”

Trade ‘disaster’ worsens under Trump

President Donald Trump came into office promising to reduce the U.S. trade deficit — and by that measure alone, his first year might be considered a dud.

The U.S. trade deficit increased more than 12 percent in 2017, to $566 billion — its highest level since 2008, according to figures released on Tuesday by the Commerce Department.

The bilateral trade deficit with China rose to a record $375 billion in 2017, and trade gaps with Mexico, Canada and Japan also increased.

During the 2016 campaign, Trump repeatedly zeroed in on the trade deficit, hammering it as a cause of U.S. economic decline and placing the blame on U.S. leaders, whom he accused of worshiping “globalism over Americanism.”

“This is not some natural disaster, it’s a political and politician-made disaster,” he said in a June 2016 speech in Monessen, Pennsylvania. “Very simple. And it can be Continue reading “Trade ‘disaster’ worsens under Trump”

White House preparing for trade crackdown

President Donald Trump’s administration is preparing to unveil an aggressive trade crackdown in the coming weeks that is likely to include new tariffs aimed at countering China’s and other economic competitors’ alleged unfair trade practices, according to three administration officials.

Trump is tentatively scheduled to meet with Cabinet secretaries and senior advisers as soon as this week to begin finalizing decisions on a slew of pending trade fights involving everything from imports of steel and solar panels to Chinese policies regarding intellectual property, according to one of the administration officials.

Senior aides are also laying plans to use Trump’s State of the Union address at the end of the month to flesh out the president’s trade vision and potentially preview a more aggressive posture toward China, according to the official.

Aides stressed that the specifics are still in flux, but multiple officials told POLITICO that internal conversations have moved beyond Continue reading “White House preparing for trade crackdown”

U.S. trade gap soars as imports from China hit record high

The U.S. trade deficit jumped 8.6 percent in October as imports from China and other suppliers hit a record high ahead of the holiday shopping season, a Commerce Department report released Tuesday showed.

The monthly trade gap totaled $48.7 billion, the highest level for a full month since President Donald Trump took office on Jan. 20.

Ahead of the election, a Trump campaign adviser asserted they could eliminate the deficit in one or two years. Instead, the 2017 deficit is on track to exceed the 2016 level of $505 billion.

Imports of goods and services hit a record high of $244.6 billion as the U.S. economy continued to strengthen and suck in more goods from abroad. Imports totaled $48.2 billion from China, $39.4 billion from the EU and $28.7 billion from Mexico — all record highs.

In addition, the average price for Continue reading “U.S. trade gap soars as imports from China hit record high”

Trump’s idea of new NAFTA deal is ‘take, take, take,’ Canadian envoy says

The United States promised Canada and Mexico a new "win, win, win" NAFTA deal, but the Trump administration’s approach is more like “take, take, take,” Canada’s ambassador to the United States told POLITICO.

"If what is happening here is the negotiation is all about how do we increase production in the United States — whether it be in autos or anywhere else — at the expense of Canada and Mexico, this is not going to end well,” Ambassador David MacNaughton said in an interview at the Canadian Embassy. “What we need to do is find a way where we can see jobs created in the United States, and also in Canada.”

The candid comments Wednesday came in response to U.S. complaints that Canada has not seriously engaged in talks to revamp the North American Free Trade Agreement. President Donald Trump’s promise to renegotiate or else withdraw from the Continue reading “Trump’s idea of new NAFTA deal is ‘take, take, take,’ Canadian envoy says”

Trump ratchets up pressure on China with rare trade action

The Trump administration fired a trade salvo at China on Tuesday by launching a pair of investigations that could lead to steep duties on imports of aluminum sheet valued at more than $600 million.

The move was the first time a U.S. administration has “self-initiated” an anti-dumping or countervailing duty case in at least 25 years and marked an escalation of the Trump administration’s antagonistic trade relationship with Beijing.

Most trade remedy cases begin with a petition, whether it be filed by an industry group, a collection of companies, or even an individual firm. Such petitions generally accuse foreign producers of selling products in the U.S. at unfairly low — or “dumped” — prices, or they take issue with a foreign company receiving government subsidies that give them an unfair advantage.

But in this case, the Trump administration took action in the absence of a petition as it Continue reading “Trump ratchets up pressure on China with rare trade action”

Trump’s trade boasts in Asia mask looming China problem

President Donald Trump may be boasting that his Asia trip will multiply into more than a "trillion dollars’ worth of stuff," but the real work on trade has been left undone.

All his braggadocio on business deals struck on his trip belie the simmering trade tensions between the U.S. and China that many analysts believe will now come to the fore.

“For me, we’re moving inexorably toward the edge of the cliff,” said Dan Ikenson, head of the Cato Institute’s Center for Trade Policy Studies.

Despite Trump’s glee over $250 billion in corporate deals announced in Beijing, he personally had little hand in them and they collectively did nothing to address his main grievance over Chinese industrial policies that restrict American firms and contribute to the large trade deficit between the world’s two biggest economies.

Bloomberg did a detailed look at the deals announced during the stop in China Continue reading “Trump’s trade boasts in Asia mask looming China problem”