Mnuchin hopes US-China trade talks near "last round"

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said on Saturday that a trade deal between China and China would go beyond previous attempts to open Chinese markets to US companies and has expressed the hope that both parties would be "close to the last round" of the negotiations. .

US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin leaves the G20 Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors Meeting at the 2019 Annual Spring Meetings of the IMF and the World Bank in Washington, DC, April 12, 2019. REUTERS / James Lawler Duggan

Mnuchin, speaking to reporters on the sidelines of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank Spring Meetings, said he and US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer would hold two calls next week with the Deputy Prime Minister Chinese Liu He. Officials also discussed the need for more in-person meetings to reach an agreement.

"I think we're hoping we'll get closer to the final round of final questions," said Mnuchin.

Beijing and Washington seek an agreement to end a fierce trade war characterized by equal tariffs that have cost the world's two largest economies billions of dollars, disrupted supply chains and shattered markets financial.

The United States calls for radical changes in China's economic and trade policies, including new protections for US intellectual property, the end of forced technology transfers, and the theft of trade secrets online. Washington also wants Beijing to reduce its industrial subsidies, expand its economy to US companies and increase purchases of US agricultural, energy and manufactured goods to reduce the $ 419 billion trade deficit with China .

Asked whether the planned market openings in the agreement would go beyond what had been envisaged during the negotiations of the 2016 Bilateral Investment Treaty, he replied:

"We are progressing, I want to be careful. It is not a public negotiation (…). It's a very very detailed agreement covering issues that have never been dealt with, "said Mnuchin. "It goes well beyond anything that could look like a bilateral investment treaty."

The ILO talks, pursued by the administration of former President Barack Obama, were stalled by China's refusal to meet US demands to open important sectors of its economy to foreign investment. The Trump administration has not resumed talks, which have applied tariffs on Chinese products, which has led to ongoing talks.

Mnuchin said the two sides are negotiating an agreement with seven chapters that would be "the most important change in trade relations in 40 years".

He added that the agreement would have "real application on both sides", adding that the United States was ready to be punished for failing to honor its commitments.

"I would expect the control mechanism to work both ways, to meet our commitments, and if we do not do it, there should be some repercussions, and in the same way in the world. other meaning, "said the head of the Treasury, plays a key role in the negotiations with China.

Report by David Lawder and Pete Schroeder; Edited by Paul Simao and Andrea Ricci

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