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Montevideo, April 25th 2019 - 14:04 UTC

US/China closer to a deal: they agree to establish “enforcement officers”

Thursday, April 11th 2019 - 06:45 UTC
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Mnuchin said progress continues to be made, including a “productive” call with China's Vice Premier Liu He. The discussions would be resumed on Thursday Mnuchin said progress continues to be made, including a “productive” call with China's Vice Premier Liu He. The discussions would be resumed on Thursday

The United States and China have largely agreed on a mechanism to police any trade agreement they reach, including establishing new “enforcement offices,” U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said on Wednesday.

Mnuchin, speaking on CNBC television, said that progress continues to be made in the talks, including a “productive” call with China's Vice Premier Liu He on Tuesday night. The discussions would be resumed early on Thursday, Washington time, he added.

“We've pretty much agreed on an enforcement mechanism, we've agreed that both sides will establish enforcement offices that will deal with the ongoing matters,” Mnuchin said, adding that there were still important issues for the countries to address.

Mnuchin declined to comment on when or if U.S. tariffs on US$250 billion worth of Chinese goods would be removed. Although President Donald Trump said recently that a deal could be ready around the end of April, Mnuchin declined to put a timeframe on the negotiations, adding that Trump was focused on getting the “right deal.”

”As soon as we're ready and we have this done, he's ready and willing to meet with President Xi (Jinping) and it's important for the two leaders to meet and we're hopeful we can do this quickly, but we're not going to set an arbitrary deadline,“ Mnuchin added.

The United States is demanding that China implement significant reforms to curb the theft of U.S. intellectual property and end forced transfers of technology from American companies to Chinese firms.

Washington also wants Beijing to curb industrial subsidies, open its markets more widely to U.S. firms and vastly increase purchases of American agricultural, energy and manufactured goods.

Mnuchin did not address whether the enforcement structure would allow the United States a unilateral right to re-impose tariffs without retaliation if China fails to follow through on its commitments.

Mnuchin said he and U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, who is leading the negotiations, are focused on ”execution” of drafting the documents in the trade agreement.

The two sides are working on broad agreements covering six areas: forced technology transfer and cyber theft, intellectual property rights, services, currency, agriculture and non-tariff barriers to trade, according to two sources familiar with the progress of the talks.

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