U.S., China reach currency manipulation deal as Trump eyes Xi trade endgame

Steven Mnuchin says visiting trade delegation will extend trip after currency deal

President Donald Trump didn’t shed any light as he left the White House on Saturday morning on what he’d be saying in an afternoon announcement about border security. (Win McNamee/Getty Images file photo)
President Donald Trump didn’t shed any light as he left the White House on Saturday morning on what he’d be saying in an afternoon announcement about border security. (Win McNamee/Getty Images file photo)
Posted February 22, 2019 at 3:32pm

U.S. and Chinese trade negotiators have reached a deal on what the Trump administration has called currency stabilization by the Beijing government, according to Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.

During talks that have spanned much of the Trump presidency’s two years, administration officials have complained to their Chinese counterparts that they are lessening the value of their own currency. Most recently, they said China is doing so to offset the economic hurt of U.S. tariffs on their goods amid an ongoing trade tiff.

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The Treasury secretary told reporters the two sides have a “final agreement” on currency issues, but he did not elaborate on any details.

Mnuchin’s comments came as reporters were allowed into part of an Oval Office meeting with President Donald Trump, Chinese Vice Premier Liu He and other officials from both countries.

During the brief media appearance, Trump said he sees a “very, very good chance” the two economic powerhouses soon will reach a trade accord. The negotiators are up against a March 1 deadline at which time 10 percent U.S. tariffs on $200 billion in Chinese-made goods will swell to 25 percent. 

The president again said he is open to extending that deadline.

Chinese negotiators have been in Washington this week for a new round of talks, and the Treasury boss said the visiting delegation would extend its stay by two days to allow talks to continue.

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Trump said he expects a final deal will come down to direct talks with Chinese President Xi Jinping, where he said they would likely have to hammer out the final details. 

“Probably in Mar-a-Lago,” Trump said of a trade meeting with Xi. “Probably fairly soon,” he added.

 In a wide-ranging question-and-answer session in the Oval Office, Trump sent a message to lawmakers trying to block his moves to use Pentagon and Treasury Department monies for his proposed southern border barrier.

“Will I veto it? 100 percent,” Trump said when asked if he will veto a resolution of disapproval introduced earlier Friday in the House about his border national emergency. “I will veto it, yes.”

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Trump ran in 2016 as a once-in-a-generation deal-maker, and often is eager to cast himself as having finished things after his staff took care of lesser issues. Trump said Friday he expects to meet with Xi soon, but he did not give a more specific date.

Meantime, Trump was asked about charges against New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft, a close friend, of soliciting a prostitute at a strip mall massage parlor in Jupiter, Florida.

The president described himself as “surprised” and stressed to reporters that Kraft “denies it.”

His remark was not the first time he has sided with a man accused of sexual misconduct, including his defense of now-Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh after a California woman came forward alleging Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her in high school in the 1980s.

The commander in chief also was asked about his decision to leave some U.S. military troops in Syria, which a senior White House official confirmed Friday morning.

“I’m not reversing course,” Trump said of his decision to keep about 200 U.S. troops inside Syria after recently saying he would remove all American troopers.