U.S. trade trip to China fuels optimism Beijing will resume farm purchases



Adam Behsudi | Politico

White House senior economic adviser Larry Kudlow said Tuesday the administration hopes China will begin “very soon” to make significant purchases of U.S. agricultural goods as a goodwill gesture — and ultimately as part of a final trade deal.

“I’m going to play that on the optimistic side. Going over there is a very good sign,” Kudlow told reporters. He confirmed that a senior U.S. official will travel to China for the first face-to-face meeting of top negotiators since President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping agreed late last month to restart trade talks that had stalled in May.

U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin spoke over the phone with their Chinese counterparts on Thursday, which resulted in a trip to China being planned for next week, POLITICO reported Monday.

A U.S. official confirmed a Bloomberg report on Tuesday that Lighthizer would travel to Shanghai to meet with Chinese officials Monday through Wednesday of next week. Chinese Vice Premier Liu He and Commerce Minister Zhong Shan will lead the talks for Beijing. A White House spokesperson referred questions about the trip to the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, which didn’t respond to an inquiry.

Trump said he secured a commitment from Xi at the G-20 meeting last month that Beijing would buy more U.S. farm goods, but those purchases have yet to fully materialize. Trump has long viewed massive purchases of agricultural goods by China as a vital part of negotiations to end the trade war, which the U.S. launched to address policies and practices the administration says result in the forced transfer of U.S. technology and theft of intellectual property.

“We haven’t had a guarantee of that, but I wouldn’t be surprised if we didn’t [see] a lot of positive news on that coming up,” Kudlow said about the potential for new agricultural purchases.

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