US-China trade talks are in the ‘final laps’: Steven Mnuchin tells NYT

(L-R) US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Chinese Vice Premier Liu He pose for a group photo at the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse in Beijing on February 15, 2019.

Mark Schiefelbein | AFP | Getty Images

Trade talks between the U.S. and China are now in the final stages, said U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, ahead of this week’s meeting in Beijing between negotiators from both sides, according to a New York Times report.

“We’re getting into the final laps,” the report quoted Mnuchin as saying, in an interview at the Milken Institute Global Conference in Los Angeles.

“I think both sides have a desire to reach an agreement,” Mnuchin said, according to the New York Times report. “We’ve made a lot of progress.”

According to the report, Mnuchin said that while both countries are nearing a deal, the negotiations are reaching a stage where either an agreement could happen — or it could end without a deal.

Mnuchin, together with U.S Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, have been trying to negotiate a deal with Chinese representatives amid a protracted trade war between the world’s two largest economies. Both sides have met several times in a bid to hammer out a deal to end their trade differences. The talks so far have focused on a range of issues, including forced technology transfer and structural reforms.

Both Mnuchin and Lighthizer will head to Beijing for talks that start on April 30, Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said in a statement last week. They will meet with Chinese Vice Premier Liu He.

According to the Times report, Mnuchin did not want to say if the talks would conclude by the end of June, but only that both economic powerhouses desire to have an agreement.

He also declined to say if a collapse in negotiations would cause Trump to inflict more tariffs on China, the Times said in the report.

The U.S. and China have been embroiled in a trade dispute since last year that spooked world markets and hurt global growth. The Trump administration imposed levies on $250 billion of Chinese goods, and China retaliated by placing its own tariffs on $110 billion of American products.

For the full report, read the New York Times.

— CNBC’s Joanna Tan contributed to this report.

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