Mnuchin: Tariffs not hurting U.S. market
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.