November 15, 2019
The first phase of a U.S. trade deal with China may be nearing an end, according to comments made by two administration officials.
Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said said in an interview Friday morning that a U.S.-China trade deal will happen "in all likelihood," although he told Fox Business host Maria Bartiromo, "the devil is always in the details."
His remarks echoed comments made by White House economic advisor Larry Kudlow late Thursday, who told reporters that a deal is "coming down to the short strokes." He also said the U.S. is "in communication with [China] every single day."
An agreement between the nations may have as many as three phases, though the first focuses on "current trade," Ross said.
"Phase one is relatively limited in its scope and what's really being debated is how much limitation will there be on the scope of phase one relative to phase two and, maybe phase three," he said.
President Trump has yet to publicly show approval. Six months ago, China and the U.S. appeared to be close to a deal, but both parties ultimately backed away. "You don't really have a deal on anything, until you have a deal on everything." Ross said. He added it's "not surprising" that details of the deal have yet to be firmed up.
Among the details holding up a deal are a demand China promise to stop stealing U.S. intellectual property and lay out how it will buy as much as $50 billion in agricultural imports. Ross said the agricultural commitment remains a topic of conversation, including "how firm is that commitment going to be and what happens if they don't live up to it."
Kudlow told the audience at a Council on Foreign Relations event Thursday that the two sides are "getting close" and have been having "very constructive" talks.
Kudlow said at the event that Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping may sign a deal without meeting in person again.