Trump Said to Plan Meeting With GOP Concerned on China Stance

(Bloomberg) -- President Donald Trump plans to meet Tuesday with Senate Republicans concerned about restrictions he’s weighing on Chinese investments in the U.S., two people familiar with the matter said.

The meeting, called by the administration, includes Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn of Texas and Mike Crapo of Idaho, the chairman of the Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee, according to the people. The lawmakers want to discuss Trump’s 301 investigation into Chinese violations of intellectual-property rights that has prompted U.S. threats of tariffs on imports of a range of products from the world’s second-largest economy, they said.

The lawmakers, the people said, want Trump to understand that unilateral investment curbs aren’t popular in Congress and that there’s legislation under consideration that would overlap with the crackdown the administration is considering.

A White House spokesman didn’t respond to a request for comment.

Some members of Congress are objecting to the executive authority Trump wants to use to punish trading partners for imbalances he says hurt American workers. Last week he announced tariffs against imports of steel and aluminum from Mexico, Canada and the European Union that are already imposed on Chinese metals.

Trade War Peril

Trump has also threatened tariffs on as much as $150 billion in Chinese imports after the U.S. Trade Representative’s office earlier this year concluded that Beijing violates American intellectual- property rights. China vowed to retaliate in kind, sparking fear of a trade war.

“I am working with like-minded Republican senators on ways to push back on the president using authorities in ways never intended and that are damaging to our country and our allies,” Senator Bob Corker, a Republican from Tennessee and the chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, said in a June 2 tweet. “Will Democrats join us?”

But Cornyn said he believes the president’s actions cannot be stopped through legislation.

“I don’t think there is a legislative response. Congress has already given the president pretty unilateral authority on trade matters,” Cornyn told reporters Monday. “So I think we’re going to continue to have the conversation and use the powers of persuasion.”

Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross returned from a June 2-4 trade mission to Beijing without specific pledges from China to purchase more exports from the U.S.

The concern about Trump’s trade moves is shared by traditional allies.

Finance chiefs from the Group of Seven wealthy nations emerged from three days of talks on Saturday united in their condemnation of Trump’s decision to impose tariffs on the EU, Canada and Mexico, promising to press ahead with retaliatory measures unless Trump steps back. It was a rare rebuke of a member nation by the group that foreshadows high drama when Trump meets leaders of the other six major industrial nations Friday at a summit in the Quebec resort town of Charlevoix, near the border with Maine.

©2018 Bloomberg L.P.