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Thursday, December 12, 2019 - 19:44

MNI POLICY: Senate Skeptics Appear Over Reported China Deal

--White House No Comment On Talk On Breakthrough

WASHINGTON (MNI) - While President Trump has signalled a deal with China, members of the U.S. Senate have urged him to stand firm in the negotiations, warning any phase one deal that fails to include meaningful, enforceable, and lasting structural reforms would be a severe loss for America.

"We are concerned that, if trade tensions worsen and necessary diplomatic pressure is not maintained, the United States will be left with a weak political agreement devoid of substantive reforms," a letter said Thursday.

The letter -- signed by Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer, Senate Finance Committee Ranking Member Ron Wyden, and Senator Sherrod Brown -- urges the President to sustain pressure on China in order to achieve "meaningful concessions" in a phase one deal and to go "beyond merely recalibrating the United States trade balance with China."

"It is imperative that such an agreement goes beyond merely recalibrating the United States trade balance with China. Failure to secure commitments from the Chinese government to enact substantive, enforceable, and permanent structural reform will jeopardize American jobs and long-term economic prosperity."

Senate Democrats commended the Trump administration's "continued focus" on the China trade talks but warned that strength is the only way to win with China, and the U.S. cannot afford to back down now.

"To be clear, your administration must stay strong against the Chinese government if fundamental concessions are not made."


President Trump indicated movement towards a deal writing on Twitter, "Getting VERY close to a BIG DEAL with China. They want it, and so do we!"

Trump met with his economic advisors on Thursday to discuss suspending the Dec. 15 tariffs in return for Chinese commitments to purchase American agricultural goods.

The White House Thursday evening declined to comment on a potential breakthrough and a delay in imposing the new tariffs.


Dan DiMicco, a former senior trade and economic adviser to Trump during the presidential campaign, opposed the prospect.

"There should be no deal or tariff reduction or delay unless the Phase One deal covers all 7 points of the USTR's key fundamental issues with China, including IP theft, forced IP transfer, and strong enforcement rules and immediate enforcement of strong penalties when they cheat on the agreement as determined by Mr. Lighthizer, USTR. Just ag and financial services don't cut it," he said.

Senator Marco Rubio, a Florida Republican, member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and former presidential contender in the 2016 elections, warned against settling too quickly with Beijing.

Rubio wrote on Twitter, "White House should consider the risk that a near-term deal with China would give away the tariff leverage needed for a broader agreement on the issues that matter the most such as subsidies to domestic firms, forced tech transfers and blocking U.S. firms access to key sectors."

--MNI Washington Bureau; +1 202 371 2121; email:

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