- The Washington Times - Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Sen. Steve Daines of Montana said Wednesday he applauds President Trump’s tough stance on trade with China, since he saw firsthand how difficult it is to do business there.

But his patience is finite, he warned Treasury Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin.

Mr. Daines, a Republican, said farmers and retailers back home are fretting over tit-for-tat tariffs with the Asian superpower.

“I will tell you we need results. We need them soon,” Mr. Daines told Mr. Mnuchin, who testified before the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Finance Services and General Government.

Mr. Trump says the tariffs he’s imposed on $250 billion worth of Chinese imports will help the U.S. gain leverage in striking a fair deal with Beijing, though economists say much of the costs will fall on American businesses and consumers.

Mr. Daines said a large proportion of Montana’s wheat crop goes to Asia, so there’s a lot at stake in the escalating dispute.

At the same time, he said he understands the need to take a hard line, citing his private-sector work in China for Proctor and Gamble.

“I have a lot of experience with what it’s like to do business on the ground there,” Mr. Daines said, arguing the only thing worse than “doing something is doing nothing.”

Mr. Mnuchin said his team is working toward a deal, but it must protect U.S. interests.

Mr. Trump insists the U.S. is a great position to resolve the “squabble,” citing in part his relationship with Chinese President Xi Jinping.

Some lawmakers are worried that his go-it-alone approach, without key allies, is risky.

While it is a bilateral negotiation, Mr. Mnuchin said he plans to fill in partner nations during upcoming meetings across the globe.

“We are working with our allies,” he told senators.

• Tom Howell Jr. can be reached at thowell@washingtontimes.com.

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