Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin said Sunday that the United States was “putting the trade war [with China] on hold” in light of recent trade talks between the two nations, even though those talks produced no firm public commitments from China on reducing the two nations’ trade deficit, a priority for the Trump administration.
“We’re putting the trade war on hold,” Mnuchin told Fox News’ Chris Wallace in an interview Sunday. “So right now, we have agreed to put the tariffs on hold while we try to execute the framework.”
Trump has threatened to tariff tens of billions of dollars worth of Chinese goods over what he’s asserted is an unfair trade deficit and other issues, including the theft of American intellectual property. China, in turn, announced plans to target major American exports with sanctions.
The United States initially demanded a $200 billion reduction in its trade deficit with China, among other things, at the start of trade discussions earlier this month. Reuters noted that number is larger than annual U.S. agricultural and oil exports.
Wallace pressed Mnuchin on the lack of any firm commitment regarding the deficit coming out of the recent talks.
“One, no specific target of $200 billion [in reducing the trade deficit],” he noted.
“We have specific targets,” Mnuchin said. “I’m not going to publicly disclose what they are. They go industry-by-industry.”
“As far as the President’s threat, first of $50 billion in tariffs on Chinese goods, then $150 billion, those are all on hold?” Wallace asked.
“They are,” Mnuchin said. “And the President had a very productive meeting with the vice premier in the Oval Office, with all of us and the Vice President. He heard these commitments himself.”
“And he can always decide to put the tariffs back on if China doesn’t go through with their commitments.”