Trade negotiations between the U.S. and China are likely in their final weeks, but that’s no guarantee the trade war between the two countries will end any time soon, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer told lawmakers Tuesday.
“There are still major, major issues that have to be resolved,” Lighthizer testified at a Senate Finance Committee under intense questioning. “And if those issues are not resolved in a way that’s beneficial to the United States, we will not have an agreement.”
Senators like Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., impressed upon Lighthizer the damage the trade war and Chinese retaliatory tariffs are doing to U.S. agricultural exports, but the USTR was adamant that a resolution could not be reached without the Chinese agreeing to some U.S. demands.
When asked directly by Sen. Maggie Hassan, D-N.H., if it’s “getting to an end point one way or another,” Lighthizer responded: “Yeah, I think that’s correct.”
As to how long he, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and others have to get an agreement, Lighthizer stressed that it wasn’t up to them.
“The president will tell me when the time is up or the Chinese will,” he said.
Meanwhile, U.S. negotiators are working almost nonstop, he said.
Lighthizer said he and Mnuchin were on the phone with their Chinese counterparts Monday night and he expects they’ll be calling them again Wednesday night.
“If we have an agreement, it’ll be 110 or 120 pages,” he said. “We’re working more or less continuously. Our staffs are getting drafts back and forth.”
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