The White House announces the primary trade negotiators who will be heading to China next week for another round of trade discussions. In the background, yesterday President Trump announced there was no planned meeting between himself and Chinese Chairman Xi, which would indicate there is still a considerable distance between the trade delegations.
USTR Robert Lighthizer is the tip-of-the-spear, and has been very direct about his approach. Lighthizer stated that without very specific, actionable and measurable deliverables included in the terms of agreement, the March 1st tariff increase will proceed without impairment.
[White House] Today, President Donald J. Trump announced the members of an official United States delegation to China to discuss the trade relationship between the two countries. United States Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Secretary of the Treasury Steven Mnuchin travel to Beijing for principal-level meetings that will take place from February 14 through February 15, 2019. These meetings will be preceded by deputy-level negotiations that will begin on February 11, 2019, led by Deputy United States Trade Representative Jeffrey Gerrish.
Official delegation members also include United States Trade Representative Chief Agricultural Negotiator Gregg Doud, Department of the Treasury Under Secretary for International Affairs David Malpass, Department of Agriculture Under Secretary for Trade and Foreign Agricultural Affairs Ted McKinney, Department of Commerce Under Secretary of Commerce for International Trade Gilbert Kaplan, Deputy Director of the National Economic Council and Deputy Assistant to the President for International Economic Affairs Clete Willems, and Department of Energy Assistant Secretary for Fossil Energy Steven Winberg.
The delegation will be accompanied by additional senior officials from the White House, the Office of the United States Trade Representative, and the Departments of State, the Treasury, Agriculture, Commerce, and Energy. (read more)
Notably the biggest Chinese trade critic from the administration, White House trade policy adviser Peter Navarro, is not included in the delegation.
Additionally, it is suspected that President Trump may sign an executive order banning the American use of Chinese 5G telecom equipment sometime between next week and an upcoming telecommunications conference, MWC Barcelona, formerly known as Mobile World Congress, which takes place February 25-28. [Story Here]
However, with the U.S. delegation trip to Beijing Feb 14 and 15, there is a question of whether President Trump will delay any executive order until after the trade team conducts their scheduled negotiations. The distance between the negotiations and the executive order could likely be an indicator of how trade discussions are proceeding.