White House trade adviser vows 'tough' talks with China

Agence France-Presse

Posted at Dec 14 2018 09:31 AM

US President Donald Trump pauses while speaking to reporters in the Oval Office at the White House in Washington, US, February 9, 2018. Jonathan Ernst,Reuters

WASHINGTON, United States -- President Donald Trump's trade negotiators will hold "tough" talks with China, a senior White House adviser said Thursday, while cautioning against watching day-to-day reports on the negotiations.

The whole world is watching the trade talks between Washington and Beijing, hoping the 90-day tariff truce will hold and the sides can end a dispute that could disrupt the global economy.

"From our point of view, what we must do is hold fast, stay tough, and focus on a prize," US trade adviser Peter Navarro said on the Fox Business television network. 

"The prize for this country and for the world and for China really is complete structural reform to put an end to all these practices which are disrupting the global economy."

Navarro, an anti-China firebrand, said the key will be to "trust but verify."

The talks began after Trump met with Chinese leader Xi Jinping in Buenos Aires on December 1.

In followed-up talks by phone on Monday, Beijing pledged to lower punitive tariffs on US auto imports, resume purchases of American soybeans, and reform its 10-year economic program to allow more US investment, according to reports.

Financial markets have alternatively recovered and slumped on each new hint of progress or increased tensions between the world's largest economies.

Navarro said his advice to investors was "don't get hung up now in the day-to-day news about what China is saying it's going to do." 

"I would just focus on March 1st, when we'll have a complete offer from China that will be negotiated behind closed doors, not on the front page of The Wall Street Journal."

He said the US wants China to buy more from the United States, but "much more importantly are the structural issues" including forced transfer and theft of American technology, "cyber intrusions," and "state directed investment."

The two sides have exchange punitive tariffs on hundreds of billions of dollars in trade, and prior to the ceasefire Washington had been poised to more than double the rate on $200 billion in Chinese goods starting January 1.