Lighthizer to Oversee U.S.-China Trade Talks, Navarro Says

USTR Robert Lighthizer ( USTR )

(Bloomberg) -- U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer will be in charge of 90 days of fast negotiations with Chinese officials on settling trade disputes, White House economic adviser Peter Navarro said.

“He’s the toughest negotiator we’ve ever had at the USTR and he is going to go chapter and verse and get tariffs down, non-tariff barriers down and end all these structural practices that prevent market access," Navarro said during an interview Monday with National Public Radio.

The details of the upcoming talks were being fleshed out as President Donald Trump was already touting the benefits to U.S. agriculture, asserting on Twitter that "farmers will be a a very BIG and FAST beneficiary."

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin later told CNBC that Trump is ultimately in charge of the negotiations after coming to an agreement with his counterpart Xi Jinping.

“This was a great breakthrough and now the two teams have a lot of work to do,” Mnuchin said. “It’s the first time we’ve had an agreement between the two presidents.”

Mnuchin said the team will be "inclusive" and also include himself, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross and economic adviser Larry Kudlow, as well as Lighthizer and Navarro.

Trump earlier Monday jolted global auto stocks with a claim that China agreed to “reduce and remove” tariffs on imported American-made cars, raising more questions about the outcome of his meeting with Xi.

Trump gave no other details in his late-night tweet, which came shortly after he agreed with Xi to a truce in the trade war during a meeting at the Group of 20 summit in Argentina. In a briefing in Beijing a few hours later, China’s foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang declined to comment on any car tariff changes.

 

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