Critics fear trump is ceding too much to china on trade – the washington post gas house eggs

##

The former business executive, who prides himself on his negotiating savvy, is facing criticism for bending to the Chinese government on two key trade disputes in the space of a week, alarming longtime supporters who had welcomed his call for a more confrontational approach to Beijing.

On Sunday, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said that the administration put its trade war with China “on hold” after two days of talks in Washington that he said had produced an agreement on increased Chinese purchases of American products and measures to make it easier for U.S. companies to operate in China.

Even though the agreement lacked the specific $200 billion reduction in the U.S. trade deficit with China that was Trump’s signature demand on trade, the president halted tariffs he had threatened to impose on $150 billion in Chinese products.

“It’s a huge disappointment, given the expectations,” said Scott Paul, president of the Alliance for American Manufacturing, a partnership between steelworkers and their employers. “It plays right into Beijing’s hands . . . and is more of the same old failed policies we saw under the Bush and Obama administrations.”

The administration’s rocky handling of relations with China reflects a complex intermingling between economic and national security. Trump on Friday proclaimed that the United States “has entered a new era in trade policy that is based on the recognition that our economic security is critical to our national security.”

The recent visit to Beijing of a North Korean delegation of municipal and provincial officials — the first such visit in eight years — suggested that Beijing might have been preparing to relax its sanctions on Pyongyang, perhaps in retaliation for Trump’s tariff threats, Wilder said.

The treasury secretary would not comment on reports that China had balked at a U.S. request for $200 billion in increased annual purchases, a figure that many economists regard as impossible to execute. Instead, he said the two sides had agreed on specific targets for individual sectors, such as agriculture and energy.

“We expect to see a very big increase, 35 to 45 percent increases in agriculture this year alone,” Mnuchin said. “In energy, doubling the energy purchases. I think you could see $50 [billion] to $60 billion a year of energy purchases over the next three to five years.”

Mnuchin’s remarks came one day after the United States and China released a joint statement that appeared to take a step back from a potential trade war. Larry Kudlow, director of the National Economic Council, said Friday that China had agreed to buy “at least $200 billion” more from the United States each year.

Chinese President Xi Jinping asked his American counterpart to “look into” a Commerce Department enforcement action against ZTE that threatened to put the company out of business. After ZTE violated the terms of a 2017 settlement of criminal and civil charges, the department slapped a seven-year ban on U.S. suppliers doing business with the company.

Last week, after Trump directed the Commerce Department in a tweet to help the company return to normal operations, lawmakers from both parties objected. The Republican-controlled House Appropriations Committee amended a must-pass annual spending bill to bar the department from lifting the penalties.

Mnuchin also suggested that Trump was prepared to wait until 2019 to wrap up negotiations aimed at a new North American trade deal. He confirmed that the United States, Mexico and Canada remain “far apart” after nine months of talks, having missed a deadline set by House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) last week to reach a deal on which lawmakers could vote this year.