US-China trade war deal ‘90 per cent complete’

(SCMP) – US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said a trade deal between China and the United States was 90 per cent completed, ahead of a high-stakes meeting between the two countries’ leaders at the G20 summit this week.
In an interview with CNBC, Mnuchin said: “I think this is going to be a very important G20.”

“We’re about 90 per cent of the way there,” he said. “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 US economy to get balanced trade and to continue to build on this relationship.”

Mnuchin, who has been a key negotiator along with US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, said Chinese President Xi Jinping and US President Donald Trump had a “very close working relationship” but there needed to be “the right efforts in place” for a finalised deal.

Xi and Trump are expected to meet on Saturday on the sidelines of the Group of 20 summit in Osaka, Japan, to discuss a trade war the countries have been locked in for almost a year.

Both countries have levelled billions in tariffs against each other, in a conflict that has expanded to technology, with the US blacklisting Chinese telecoms giant Huawei and five Chinese supercomputing companies.

Chinese Vice-Premier Liu He, who has led Beijing’s negotiating team, spoke by phone on Monday with Mnuchin and Lighthizer, with the two sides agreeing to resume talks.

Trump and Xi also spoke by phone last week, when the two discussed the need to maintain further communication.

Trade talks collapsed between the world’s two biggest economies in May, with the Trump administration accusing the Chinese side of backtracking from key legal commitments on issues such as market access, intellectual property protection, and forced technology transfers.

Analysts feared a comprehensive trade deal would not be possible, predicting the G20 summit would only yield another temporary ceasefire on further tariffs, similar to an agreement between Xi and Trump after the G20 summit in Argentina in December.