Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Wednesday that the U.S. and China are inching closer to finalize a long-awaited trade deal.
Mnuchin made the announcement in the backdrop of the G-20 meeting this weekend in Japan where President Trump and President Xi Jinping could make the breakthrough in trade talks that have recently stalled.
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“We were about 90% of the way there and I think there’s a path to complete this,” he told CNBC.
“We were about 90% of the way there (with a deal) and I think there’s a path to complete this.”
“The message we want to hear is that they want to come back to the table and continue because I think there is a good outcome for their economy and the U.S. economy to get balanced trade and to continue to build on this relationship,” he continued.
“I’m hopeful that we can move forward with a plan … President Trump and President Xi have a very close working relationship. We had a productive meeting at the last G-20.”
Mnuchin claims he remained confident that an agreement could be inked by the end of this year, but cautioned that “there needs to be the right efforts in place.”
The U.S. and China have been embroiled in a trade war, with both countries slapping punitive tariffs on each other in retaliation.
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Last month, the Trump administration increased tariffs on $200 billion in Chinese imports from 10 percent to 25 percent.
In retaliation, China increased tariffs on thousands of American products worth about $60 billion. A 25 percent tariff was levied on a few thousand other products, including soy oil, peanut oil, petrochemicals, frozen minerals and others.
Trump repeatedly criticized China for, in his view, unfair trade practices that exploit the U.S. market at the cost of American manufacturing and other jobs.
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Experts said that while the Trump-Xi meeting at G-20 will unlikely to result in a deal that weekend, it should progress the talks and open more opportunities for negotiators to come up with a solution to finalize the deal.