White House officials have denied that Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin proposed removing tariffs on Chinese imports in order to calm markets and induce further concessions from Beijing during the next round of trade negotiations.
According to the Wall Street Journal, Mnuchin raised the possibility in a series of strategy meetings, presenting the move as a means of achieving longer-term reform commitments. This would coincide with the next visit by Chinese Vice Premier Liu He to Washington on January 30.
“It could be an arrow in the quiver” of US negotiators, said one source informed of the talks.
It is likely that such a decision would meet resistance from China hawks in the administration such as US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, who is leading the trade talks on the American side.
The reports were quickly refuted by officials, one of whom said “No new tariff decisions have been made. We are focused on the current 90 day period and the expected high level visit by China Vice Premier Liu He at the end of this month.”