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Blackstone’s Schwarzman: I wouldn’t be surprised if trade war cools over time

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A de-escalation of trade tensions is in the interests of all parties in the Sino-U.S. trade war and should come “over time,” Steve Schwarzman, the co-founder, chairman and CEO of Blackstone Group, told CNBC Tuesday.

“There was a very good meeting between the Chinese and Americans. They had, in effect, an agreement in principle and that’s in the process of being written down and those discussions appear to be going well,” he said.

Sounding a note of caution, however, Schwarzman would not comment on a possible timeline for such a thawing in tensions.

“I wouldn’t be surprised if there would be a de-escalation of tension over time. At the moment, it’s not serving the interests of almost any area in the world — whether it’s China with slowing growth or the U.S. with slowing growth, emerging markets that supply China with slowing growth, and Europe has got its own issues,” he added.

Steve Schwarzman Blackstone Group | Chmn, CEO & Co-Founder

Anjali Sundaram | CNBC

In October, the U.S. and China reached a truce in a long-running trade war and started working to finalize a “phase one” trade agreement that includes a pause in tariff escalation and Chinese purchases of U.S. agriculture products. President Donald Trump also said last week that the phase one trade deal represents 60% of a long-term agreement.

But China has been pushing the U.S. to remove more tariffs imposed in September as part of any initial deal, people familiar with the negotiations told Reuters on Monday. The talks are aimed at resolving over a year-and-a-half of acute tensions and reducing import tariffs between the world’s two largest economies.

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Speaking to CNBC’s Karen Tso at Lisbon’s Web Summit on Tuesday, Schwarzman said it was in the best interests of all parties “that there be some kind of normalization (of relations)” and he was optimistic “that that will start to happen.”

“Getting a deal done quickly, given that the basic terms have been set, is viewed as a good thing by all parties,” he said.

Asked whether we could see import tariffs starting to be removed from Chinese and U.S. goods, Schwarzman said: “I can’t comment on that on global television.”

—CNBC’s Eustace Huang and Yun Li contributed reporting to this story.

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