Mnuchin: U.S.-China trade talks progress unlikely before G-20 summit

U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Saturday talks on trade war with China are unlikely to resolve anything before the G-20 summit later this month.

U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin speaks to reporters during the G20 finance ministers and central bank governors meeting in Fukuoka, southwestern Japan, Saturday.

Mnuchin said he would discuss the trade war with People’s Bank of China Gov. Yi Gang in a meeting with him Sunday, but the meeting would not reach a definitive conclusion since specifics won’t be addressed until President Donald Trump meets with Chinese leader Xi Jinping at the G-20 summit.

“President Trump has been very clear,” Mnuchin said while at a meeting of G-20 finance ministers in Japan ahead of the summit. “Our objective is to get the right agreement, not just to get an agreement.”

The summit on the world’s financial markets with 19 countries and the European Union will be held in Osaka, Japan, on June 28-29.

Mnuchin said that the United States is willing to resume trade talks since a breakdown in negotiations a month ago, but the U.S. administration would keep raising tariffs if a deal isn’t reached.

He added that China was to blame for the impasse.

“There is no question,” that the current impasse is the “result of [China] backtracking on significant commitments,” he said.

Mnuchin also accused China on Saturday of allowing the value of its currency to slide to offset the U.S. administration’s trade tariffs on the costs of its goods to American consumers.

“It’s not coincidental in my mind that the currency has moved from approximately 6.30 [yuan to U.S. dollar] to 6.90,” Mnuchin said on the sidelines of Saturday’s meeting with G20 finance leaders.

The World Bank and International Monetary Fund have blamed the U.S.-China trade tensions for downgraded economic outlooks this week.

The IMF also estimated that tariffs on Chinese goods due to the trade war could reduce gross domestic product by up to .5 percent next year.

Still, Mnuchin said that the U.S.-China trade war was not to blame for slowing economic momentum.

“Clearly there is a slowdown in Europe, there is a slowdown in China, there is a slowdown in other parts,” Mnuchin told reporters, adding that he did not think this was “in any way the result of trade tensions at the moment.”

BySommer Brokaw