During an interview with FOX Business’ Lou Dobbs on “Lou Dobbs Tonight” on Monday, Mnuchin clarified how the trade negotiations are going.
“The president’s been very clear if we can get the right deal, he wants the deal,” Mnuchin told Dobbs. “If we can’t get the right deal, he’s happy with the tariffs.”
Mnuchin touted how President Trump is the first president to take these issues head-on.
“As you know, the president not only likes tariffs, but he uses them strategically,” Mnuchin said. “And he’s right.”
“If it weren’t for the tariffs, nobody would be at the table negotiating.”
A new twist to Mnuchin’s comments, which were made at the United Nations General Assembly, is that the Trump administration had requested that Chinese officials cancel a visit to U.S. farming regions.
A report by state-backed media group Yicai quoted a Beijing senior agricultural representative as saying that China did not cancel the planned visits to the U.S. because of challenges in trade negotiations. The visits by Chinese officials to farms in Montana and Nebraska were unexpectedly called off, but now, Mnuchin stated the cancellation “was purely at our request.”
After Mnuchin explained the request to reschedule the farm visits, President Trump asked Mnuchin “Why was that our request, just out of curiosity?”
Mnuchin assured the president it was to avoid any confusion around the trade negotiations, but Trump responded to that by saying “Yeah, but I want them to buy farm products.”
“There was no confusion,” Mnuchin clarified. “We want them to buy agriculture. They’ve committed to buy agriculture.”
Mnuchin clarified that discussion while speaking with Dobbs on Monday.
“The farmers and the fishermen are very important to the president,” Mnuchin said. “And I would say that we take it as a personal offense that they stopped buying agriculture.”
However, Mnuchin said the good news is the Chinese have agreed to start buying agriculture again.
China isn’t the only Asian country the United States is currently negotiating with. Reportedly, Japan is hoping to sign a trade deal with the U.S. by the end of the month, according to Japanese foreign ministry spokesperson Masato Ohtaka.