00:24 GMT +321 March 2019
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    Trump Administration Officials Weigh Various Approaches to China Trade

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    Top White House and Trump cabinet officials say they are reviewing various possible options in order to tackle the imbalances and questionable practices in bilateral trade with China, adding that there’s little clarity with respect to the next possible steps.

    Kristian Rouz — US President Donald Trump, members of his cabinet, and economic advisers are reportedly considering a range of different approaches to tackling what they believe is China's malicious trade practices.

    Some officials say a trade deal with China is a realistic possibility, others suggest a tough crackdown on bilateral trade — though both the tariff action, and regulatory restrictions.

    Talking to reporters at the White House Friday, Trump said he might refrain from slapping additional tariffs on Chinese products, depending on how the ongoing bilateral negotiations go. Trump suggested China and the US could actually reach an agreement on the list of 142 entries sent-in by Beijing recently, meaning the bilateral tensions could gradually ease.

    But Trump also stressed that some items on the list are ‘unacceptable' to him as China apparently didn't address some of his major concerns.
    "They sent a list of things that they're willing to do, which is a large list, and it's just not acceptable to me yet," Trump said, without providing further detail.

    However, Trump spoke about the tariffs he has yet to impose on China.

    "We may not have to do that," Trump said. "China would like to make a deal."

    READ MORE: Vice President Pence: US Won't Lift Tariffs Until ‘China Changes Its Ways'

    Trump has so far slapped 10-25-percent tariffs on some $200 bln worth of the China trade, while additional tariffs on $250 bln worth of Chinese products have yet to be enacted; the existing tariffs would simultaneously go up to 25 percent.

    Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross recently suggested that these additional tariffs could go into effect early next year, as he believes China and the US is unlikely to reach a comprehensive trade agreement anytime soon.

    However, Trump has said he's confident his trade officials will get China to address all his concerns and reach an agreement that would reduce US trade deficits and make bilateral trade fairer.

    "I think we'll probably get them too," the US President said.

    READ MORE: Trade Representative Denies Claims US Put Upcoming China Tariffs on Hold

    For his part, Vice President Mike Pence said the US will continue its policy of restrictions of the China trade until Beijing changes its behaviour. Pence pointed to the results of US probes under Sections 232 and 301, which he says revealed a massive abuse of US intellectual property and trade by China.

    In his speech at the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in Papua New Guinea, the US Vice President said bilateral trading relations must change.

    "We have taken decisive action to address our imbalance with China. We put tariffs on $250 bln in Chinese goods, and we could more than double that number," Pence said. "The US will not change course until China changes its ways."

    Trump is set to meet with his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping at the upcoming G20 forum in Argentina later this month, and the sides are expected to talk trade — along with security matters, such as North Korea and the tensions in the South China Sea.

    But ahead of the Trump-Xi meeting, White House officials appear to be preparing talking points that will allow Trump to convince Xi to give in to US demands.

    Trump's economic adviser Larry Kudlow said that although the US-Chinese trade talks have resumed, more work needs to be done to resolve the lingering trade differences. Kudlow said there's no guarantee China would accept US demands.

    "We are talking to them again. We're having communications at all levels of the US and Chinese government," Kudlow said.

    Meanwhile, Commerce Secretary Ross said top Chinese trade negotiator Liu He would arrive in the US yet again for ‘some informal talks'. Additionally, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin spoke with Liu on Friday, according to several reports.

    However, all the aforementioned US officials said the discussions with the Chinese haven't produced any tangible results. In this light, Trump might be more inclined to finally slap the new round of tariffs on China.

    However, the US President isn't expected to make a decision until after he talks to Xi in Argentina.


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