September 9, 2019 / 12:42 PM / a month ago

U.S. Treasury chief sees positive year for economy as China talks loom

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin on Monday said he did not see the threat of a recession as the Trump administration seeks to revive trade negotiations with China, adding that he expected a positive year ahead for the U.S. economy.

Speaking on Fox Business Network, Mnuchin said U.S. officials still aimed to “get a good deal” with Beijing as talks between the world’s two largest economies prepare to get under way in the coming weeks.

Chinese officials at the vice-minister level will travel to Washington in mid-September, followed by meetings in Washington between Chinese Vice Premier Liu He, Mnuchin, and U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer.

“We have a document, we’ve made a lot of progress, they’re coming here, I take that as a sign of good faith that they want to continue to negotiate,” Mnuchin said.

“And we’re prepared to negotiate. If we can get a good deal, a deal that’s good for us, we’ll sign it. If not the president is perfectly fine with continuing the tariffs.”

He added that the United States and China, which have been embroiled in a bitter trade war for more than a year, have a “conceptual agreement,” on how to enforce the terms of any deal.

The United States for more than two years has been seeking sweeping changes to China’s policies and practices on intellectual property protection, the forced transfer of U.S. technology to Chinese firms, American companies’ access to China’s markets and industrial subsidies.

FILE PHOTO: U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin walks to a working breakfast at the G7 Summit in Biarritz, France, August 25, 2019. Erin Schaff/Pool via REUTERS

Mnuchin told reporters outside the White House that Yi Gang, the People’s Bank of China’s governor, would attend the October meetings and the two sides would discuss “currency and currency manipulation.”

Treasury last month formally declared China a currency manipulator under a 1988 trade law, a step that would require specific negotiations with an offending country.

Mnuchin said he saw no signs of a U.S. recession approaching, adding that markets have an expectation the Federal Reserve will cut interest rates in the coming months.

Reporting by Susan Heavey and David Lawder; Editing by Kevin Liffey and Paul Simao

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