Kudlow Says U.S. Encouraged by ‘Good Vibe’ of China Trade Talks

(Bloomberg) -- President Donald Trump is optimistic about the prospect of a trade deal with the Chinese after the “good vibe” of negotiations this week, a top White House adviser said.

“The talks on Wednesday and Thursday in general had what I call a good vibe,” White House National Economic Council director Larry Kudlow said Friday in an interview on Bloomberg Television. “We’re not ready to put things down on paper, we’re a ways from that frankly -- much hard work still is in front of us -- but nonetheless we did plow some new ground insofar as talking about specifics that here before the Chinese didn’t really want to talk about.”

Two days of high-level talks ended with modest signs of progress toward an agreement that would end the trade war between the world’s two biggest economies. China promised to substantially expand purchases of U.S. goods, and both sides planned further discussion with only a month to go before the Trump administration ratchets up tariffs.

It’s essential to the U.S. that any agreement includes “unambiguous” ways to ensure it can be enforced, Kudlow said, adding that Trump remains committed to more than doubling tariffs on $200 billion of Chinese goods on March 1 if there’s no deal. “We’ve got to make this reciprocal trade, we’ve got to have the rule of law,” he said.

Trump plans to dispatch U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin to China this month in preparation for a possible meeting between the presidents of the two countries.

The two sides made important progress during talks that were candid, specific, and fruitful, according to a statement published by China’s Xinhua News Agency on Friday. China agreed to increase imports of U.S. agriculture, energy, industrial products and services, it said, without providing details. The countries also agreed to strengthen cooperation on intellectual property rights and technology transfer, Xinhua said.

In a statement, the White House didn’t list any new commitments by either side, saying only that progress had been made and “much work remains to be done.”

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