- The Washington Times - Friday, December 6, 2019

The U.S. and China are negotiating “around the clock” but it is unclear if they will reach a phase-one trade deal this month or if talks will slip into the campaign year, President Trump’s top economic adviser said Friday.

Larry Kudlow said one thing is for certain: Mr. Trump’s priorities will not change if he must negotiate with Beijing while running for reelection.

“I don’t think his criteria or conditions change. He’s protecting America, he’s defending our economy, our manufacturers, farmers [and] technology people. He’s defending us from unfair trading practices,” Mr. Kudlow told White House reporters. “I don’t think that has anything to do with the election. I think what he is looking at is the long-term security of the United States and its economy and it’s working.”

Mr. Kudlow said the House impeachment drive won’t upset talks, either.

“Personally, I don’t think this impeachment stuff is going any place. There may be an impeachment vote. There will be no conviction, that is my view. I think the Chinese know that. I think a lot of people know that,” Mr. Kudlow said.

U.S.-China trade talks have been an up-and-down affair, with tit-for-tat tariffs rattling global markets.

The administration is trying to get China to buy more U.S. agricultural goods and drop objectionable trade practices, such as the massive subsidization of its industries and forced transfer of intellectual property from U.S. companies that do business there.

Both sides have agreed to pursue a “phase-one” deal that knocks out some demands, before pivoting to a fuller deal. But the initial pact is still being written.

Mr. Kudlow couldn’t say whether Mr. Trump will ease off tariffs set to bite on Dec. 15, as talks proceed, though he acknowledged it is a decision the president must tackle.

“That is out there and it could happen if the deal is not completed by December 15,” he said.

Mr. Trump has been coy about how badly he wants a deal.

He’s eager for measures that will help key constituencies, such as farmers, though he recently said he doesn’t mind waiting until after 2020 to strike a deal.

He says he will be in a stronger position if he is reelected.

“We are close. We’re not quite there yet. The president has characterized these talks as constructive and I don’t want to make any forecasts about any dates. There’s no arbitrary deadlines, there never has been,” Mr. Kudlow said.

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