Published: Thu, May 17, 2018
Global News | By Blake Casey

Trump officials feud on sidelines of trade talk, source says

Trump officials feud on sidelines of trade talk, source says

Boeing case opens door to tariffs on EU Senate Democrats urge Trump to focus on United States over China Washington celebrates Bret Baier's new book MORE, U.S. Trade Representative Robert LighthizerRobert (Bob) Emmet LighthizerMcConnell urges GOP senators to call Trump about tariffs Companies brace for trade war MORE, and additional senior officials would meet with Chinese Vice Premier Liu He on Thursday.

It is possible that Navarro will not participate in the talks on Thursday but will play a role on Friday, said one person briefed on the matter.

Following a Bloomberg News report Wednesday that Navarro had been excluded, the White House official - speaking on condition of anonymity - said that Navarro would indeed participate.

Peter Navarro, the White House trade and manufacturing adviser who has been a fierce China critic, will not be a principal player on the USA side, officials were quoted as saying.

He added that, "We have not seen China's demands yet".

Bloomberg reported that White House trade adviser Peter Navarro was sidelined from the talks in part because of recent behavior that anonymous administration officials describe as "erratic and unprofessional".

Little progress was made during the meeting, though White House officials were hoping to make more progress during new talks this week.

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Navarro, 68, who once published a book entitled "Death by China", has always been hostile to the country. Mnuchin, a former banker, has worked to establish a one-on-one rapport with China's vice premier Liu He. Navarro had previously been isolated by other senior officials before the president promoted him earlier this year. But as the China discussions have intensified, Navarro and Mnuchin have been warring behind the scenes, with Mnuchin asserting himself as the key interlocutor and Navarro finding himself boxed out.

The US has threatened to impose 25 per cent punitive duties on up to US$150 billion (S$201.04 billion) in Chinese goods, while China has targeted US$50 billion in American exports.

This behind-the-scenes horse trading has occurred without input from Navarro or a number of other White House officials, as several appeared caught off-guard during public appearances this week. Liu's visit to Washington is meant to defuse the conflict.

According to press reports, Mr Navarro sparred with Mr Mnuchin over his handling of the China talks and was barred from attending the meetings this week.

Bloomberg cited administration officials who said Navarro did not work well with the team when the US trade delegation, headed by Treasury Secretary Stephen Mnuchin, met with Chinese trade officials in Beijing earlier this month. But the status of these meetings remains in flux, one senior administration official said, and more names could be added, particularly if Trump intervenes.

China hit back with its own tariffs shortly after.

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