Mnuchin: Trump meeting with China's Xi will be key for trade talks

Treasury Secretary Steven MnuchinSteven Terner MnuchinTrump administration imposes sanctions on Iranian petrochemical group Trump administration imposes sanctions on Iranian petrochemical group Democratic senator questions IRS commissioner over tax returns memo MORE said Saturday the main progress on a trade dispute between Washington and Beijing would occur between President TrumpDonald John TrumpO’Rourke hammers Trump on tariffs: The damage ‘has already been done’ O’Rourke hammers Trump on tariffs: The damage ‘has already been done’ Schumer mocks Trump: ‘I’m sure we won’t be hearing any more’ about illegal immigration MORE and Chinese President Xi Jinping at the Group of 20 (G-20) summit later this month.


Mnuchin told reporters in Japan while traveling to attend a gathering of G-20 finance leaders that Trump’s expected meeting with Xi will be the “next important meeting” in the trade dispute between Washington and Beijing, according to Reuters.


The Treasury secretary downplayed a meeting he is set to have Sunday with People’s Bank of China Governor Yi Gang, a member of the China’s negotiating team for trade. Mnuchin said the two would discuss economic and finance issues but emphasized that it “is not a negotiating meeting.”


“If they want to come back to the table and have a real agreement we will negotiate. If not, we’ll go forward with our plan” to impose more tariffs, Mnuchin said during a briefing Saturday in Fukuoka, Japan, Bloomberg reported.


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Trump has said he plans to meet with Xi during the G-20 summit in Osaka, Japan, later this month. The event, which brings together leaders from 19 countries and the European Union, is slated for June 28 and 29.


“We’re in a great position right now, no matter what we do,” Trump told reporters last month while discussing a potential trade deal. “Yeah, I think China wants to have it.”


Trump predicted his meeting with Xi would be “very fruitful” and argued he would be negotiating from a position of strength after talks stalled earlier this year.


The U.S. imposed tariffs on $200 billion in Chinese goods and Beijing responded with tariffs on $60 billion in imports. China has also reportedly considered plans to restrict export of its rare metals to the U.S.


Mnuchin’s remarks come two days after Trump threatened to hit China with tariffs on more than $300 billion worth of goods later this month.


China’s top central banker told Bloomberg this week that his meeting with Mnuchin is expected to be “productive” but said the trade topic would be “uncertain and difficult.”

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