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Lighthizer Says Much Remains to be Done to Get Trade Deal With China

12:39PM Feb 28, 2019
Robert Lighthizer speaks after he was sworn as U.S. Trade Representative during a ceremony at the White House in Washington, U.S. May 15, 2017.

U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer gave members of the House Ways and Means Committee an update on trade talks with China. He said much remains to be done in order to get a trade deal, but also saying real progress is being made towards getting a deal.

He told committee members the administration is pressing for significant structural changes, especially when it comes to issues of intellectual property rights and technology transfers.

He said the issues between the two countries are too serious to be resolved with promises of additional purchases. 

"If we can complete this effort, and again I say if, and can reach a satisfactory solution to the all-important outstanding issue of enforceability, as well as some other concerns, we might be able to have an agreement that helps us turn the corner in our economic relationship with China," Lighthizer told lawmakers.

He said an agreement won't need Congressional approval because it would be an executive accord.

Later on Wednesday, the U.S. Trade Representative's office filed papers to "suspend the scheduled tariff increase until further notice".  That means the U.S. is abandoning, for now, its threat to raise tariffs to 25% on $200 billion of Chinese goods, but tariffs already in place have apparently hurt many Chinese manufacturers.

A new survey shows Chinese manufacturing activity fell to a three year low in February. 

Meanwhile, a Chinese ambassador says aspects of a possible trade deal with the U.S. that require legislation could take up to 10 years to put in place.

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