US Treasury's Mnuchin says trade talks with China planned for January

US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin (pictured) said reducing the US trade deficit with China was still a major priority for President Donald Trump.
US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin (pictured) said reducing the US trade deficit with China was still a major priority for President Donald Trump.PHOTO: AFP

WASHINGTON (REUTERS) - The United States and China are planning to hold meetings in January to "document an agreement" on trade, US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told Bloomberg in an interview on Tuesday (Dec 18).

Mr Mnuchin was quoted as saying that the two sides had held several phone conversations in recent weeks, and were planning further formal talks.

Trump administration officials had not disclosed plans for face-to-face meetings since a Dec 1 trade truce reached between US President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping in Argentina led to a delay in planned US tariff increases until March 2.

"We're in the process of confirming the logistics of several meetings and we're determined to make sure that we use the time wisely, to try to resolve this," Mr Mnuchin told Bloomberg. Both sides are now focused on trying "to document an agreement" by the deadline.

"We expect there will be meetings in January," he added.

A person familiar with the talks had told Reuters over the weekend that formal US-China meetings were likely early in January.

Mr Mnuchin said neither he nor Mr Trump were aware of the arrest of a senior Huawei Technologies executive when they met Mr Xi in Buenos Aires, and said China understands that the trade talks and Huawei issues "are separate tracks", Mr Mnuchin said.

The Treasury chief said reducing the US trade deficit with China was still a major priority for Mr Trump, but added that this would take time and that the US was also focused on securing structural changes in China's economy to help rebalance trade.

Mr Mnuchin also told Bloomberg that he plans to remain Treasury Secretary through the 2020 presidential election and perhaps longer if asked. The Wall Street Journal reported in November that Mr Mnuchin might become a casualty of Mr Trump's Cabinet shake-ups.

"I foresee myself here at least through the first term and if the President wants me here for a second term when he's re-elected, I would seriously entertain that," Mr Mnuchin said.