White House Adviser Kudlow Hopeful on U.S.-China Trade Talks, Agriculture Buys

Carlos Barria/Reuters

White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow on Tuesday said it was a good sign top U.S. officials would travel to China for in-person talks about reviving stalled trade talks, and said he expected Beijing to start buying U.S. agriculture products soon.

U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin emphasized the need for Beijing to make good on its pledge to buy more U.S. agricultural products in their recent phone calls with Chinese negotiators, he said.

“As I read it, it looks like there will be a trip to China and we expect, we hope strongly that China will very soon start buying agriculture products, No. 1 as part of an overall deal and No. 2 as a goodwill gesture,” Kudlow told reporters at the White House.

U.S. President Donald Trump agreed during a meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping last month to hold off on imposing tariffs on the remaining $300 billion in Chinese imports while talks resumed. Kudlow said the Chinese agriculture purchases expected in return had not occurred but that could change soon.

“We haven’t had a guarantee of that, but I wouldn’t be surprised if we saw a lot of positive news on that coming up,” he said. “I’m going to strike a note of hopefulness.”

The world’s two largest economies have been seeking to kick-start stalled negotiations to end a yearlong trade war. Top U.S. and Chinese officials have talked by telephone, but no dates for a U.S. visit to Beijing have been released.

Trump on Tuesday said China was paying “billions and billions of dollars” to the United States, and touted help the U.S. government has provided to farmers hit by the trade war.

“We’ll see whether or not we make a deal,” with China, he said at an event in Washington.

The International Monetary Fund on Tuesday lowered its forecast for global growth this year and next, warning that more U.S.-China tariffs, auto tariffs or a disorderly Brexit could further slow growth, weaken investment and disrupt supply chains. It also slashed its forecast for growth in global trade by 0.9 percentage point to 2.5% in 2019.

(Reporting by Andrea Shalal and Susan Heavey; Additional Reporting by Alexandra Alper; Editing by Dan Grebler and Tom Brown)

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