Trump asks China to slash trade deficit $200B by 2020

President Trump’s trade representatives presented Chinese officials with a document Friday asking China’s government to reduce its trade deficit with the U.S. by $200 billion by the end of 2020, The Associated Press reports.

Two days of trade negotiations between Chinese officials and the U.S. trade delegation led by Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin ended with no agreement between the two nations other than a pledge to continue talks, according to news reports, with China likely to balk at a list of U.S. demands delivered by Trump’s representatives.

{mosads}Along with reducing China’s trade deficit, the demands also call for China to stop subsidizing key industries and “not oppose, challenge or otherwise retaliate” when the U.S. moves to restrict Chinese influence in sensitive economic sectors.

“When it comes to negotiations, both sides can provide a list of requests and we will seek common ground while reserving our differences,” a professor at a Chinese university specializing in economics told the AP. “If one side provides a list with unreasonable requests, the Chinese government is unable to accept it.”

“China will never trade off its core interests,” added Hu Xijin, the chief editor of the Communist Party-affiliated Global Times.

A statement from China’s state media agency claimed that the two sides agreed to continue discussions, including on the topic of increasing U.S. exports to China, but said no agreement had been made.

“Both sides realized that there are still relatively big differences over some issues and that they need to continue to work hard to make more improvements,” the Xinhua News Agency report said.

Trump has downplayed the possibility of a “trade war” with China, which he has said in the past would be “easy” to win. But a former official with China’s commerce ministry tells Bloomberg that such an economic conflict may still be on the way.

“The U.S. demand of cutting the trade gap is baseless, and can’t be done by the Chinese government,” said He Weiwen, the former commerce ministry official. “It’s at least good the two sides decided to keep talking, though one can’t rule out the possibility of a trade war.”

Tags China Donald Trump Free trade Steven Mnuchin Tariffs trade deficit Trump administration

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