Mnuchin: Tar­iffs not hurt­ing U.S. mar­ket

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette - - International - By Saleha Mohsin

Trea­sury Sec­re­tary Steven Mnuchin said U.S. tar­iffs and re­tal­i­a­tion by trad­ing part­ners haven't dented the do­mes­tic econ-omy, as he sought to calm fears of Repub­li­cans in Congress that a trade war is hurt­ing Amer­i­can con-sumers and com­pa­nies. Mr. Mnuchin, speak­ing be­fore the House Fi­nan­cial Ser­vices panel Thurs­day, said he and ad­min­is­tra­tion of­fi­cials are avail­able for talks with China over trade. He called the mea-sures mod­est in size and aimed at lev­el­ing the play-ing field for Amer­i­can in-dus­tries. "We put a mod­est amount of tar­iffs on China," as a re­sult of its pol­icy of forced tech­nol­ogy trans­fers, and then China re­tal­i­ated, Mr. Mnuchin said. The ad­min­is­tra­tion is mon­i­tor­ing the eco­nomic ef­fect of the tar­iffs, in­clud-ing un­cer­tainty for busi-nesses, and it hasn't yet found "any neg­a­tive im-pact," he said. Chi­nese and U.S. offi-cials have raised the pros-pect of re­sum­ing stalled talks over trade between the two na­tions af­ter Presi-dent Don­ald Trump ratch-eted up the pres­sure this week by an­nounc­ing anew round of po­ten­tial tar­iffs. "To the ex­tent to that China wants to make struc­tural changes, I and the ad­min­is­tra­tion are avail­able," Mr. Mnuchin said Thurs­day. Af­ter the U.S. un­veiled a list of Chi­nese im­ports worth $200 bil­lion that could face higher du­ties, China's Vice Min­is­ter of Com­merce Wang Shouwen said "when we have a trade prob­lem, we should talk about it." While that came amid fresh threats of re­tal­i­a­tion from Bei­jing, it matches some will­ing­ness from the Trump team to re­sume talks at a high level, ac-cord­ing to a per­son famil-iar with the ad­min­is­tra-tion's think­ing. Com­mu­ni­ca­tions be-tween se­nior mem­bers of the Trump and Xi ad­mi­nis-tra­tions have pe­tered out since a third round of for-mal ne­go­ti­a­tions ended with scant signs of agree-ment in early June. The U.S. pushed ahead with a plan to slap 25 per­cent tar-iffs on $34 bil­lion of Chi-nese im­ports last week, with plans for an­other $16 bil­lion to fol­low, spurring re­tal­i­a­tion in kind from Bei­jing. Mr. Trump's lat­est salvo threat­ens to push the trade fight into new terri-tory, with China lim­ited in us­ing tar­iffs to push back. The govern­ment has, how-ever, vowed to re­spond. Wash­ing­ton and Bei­jing have about seven weeks to strike a deal or dig in for a trade war that could up­end cor­po­rate sup­ply chains and raise prices for con-sumers around the world. The U.S. tar­iffs on $200 bil-lion of Chi­nese goods are sched­uled to take ef­fect af-ter Aug. 30, when the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion's con­sul­ta­tion process ends. In the U.S., House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., on Thurs­day drew a stark dif­fer­ence between his vi­sion for trade and Mr. Trump's, re­ject­ing tar-iffs and warn­ing that pull-ing out of trade agree-ments is a threat to the U.S. econ­omy. "We risk hav­ing Ameri-can prod­ucts locked out of new mar­kets, jobs moved over­seas, and a de­cline in Amer­i­can in­flu­ence," Mr. Ryan said at the Eco­nomic Club of Wash­ing­ton.

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