Treasury’s Mnuchin is optimistic about improved trade, tariffs and the economy

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin is getting ready for his upcoming trip to China.

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“We’re looking to have a very frank discussion on trade and the issues of the trade imbalance," Mnuchin told FOX Business’ Maria Bartiromo.  “President Trump has been very clear over the past year that he is very focused on the trade deficit and we are looking to correct that.”

Mnuchin made the comments during an interview with Bartiromo that covered a wide range of topics at the 2018 Milken Institute Global Conference, in Beverly Hill, California.

The Treasury Secretary said there are several issues to discuss during the trip including, intellectual property rights, forced technology and forced joint ventures.

Bartiromo asked him if he worries that they China will slap tariffs on things like agricultural products and other things like airplanes, making those products more expensive for consumers.

Mnuchin says he not concerned about China retaliating.

“We are just concerned that we have a good deal for American companies and American workers and that is something President Trump has been focused on,” he said.

“President trump has been very clear about the economic agenda going back to the campaign. It's been all about tax reform, regulatory relief and trade,” said Mnuchin. “We’ve made incredible progress, we’re seeing the tax cuts just beginning to kick in, we’re making big progress on the economy, we’ve done a lot on regulatory relief and we’re focused on trade and the president is determined that we have free and fair and reciprocal trade.”

Mnuchin says he is cautiously optimistic about the meetings.

“I don’t want to predict what is going to happen or not going to happen. We are going to go over there, we’re going to have very frank discussions, these are issues President Trump has been focused on for over the last year and hopefully we’ll have significant progress, said the Treasury Secretary. “We’re going there to make progress and that is our objective.”

The deadline for exempting certain nations from the tariffs on aluminum and steel is Tuesday. Mnuchin was asked if the exemptions will be extended and if markets will be disrupted.

“We are very careful about what we are doing. I think the president has been very clear, there have been ongoing discussions, said Mnuchin. ”I think when these came out the president gave us time to address these issues and the president will make a decision on this.”

On the topic of the U.S. economy, Mnuchin says the administration couldn’t be happier.

“I think the economy is doing fabulous. As we have said going back to last year, our objective is to create economic growth”, he said. “When we got here everybody told us why the economy couldn’t grow at better than 2 percent, we said our objective is sustained 3 percent GDP or higher. We’ve had several quarters of that and we are well on our way to sustained growth.”

The recent quarter came in at 2.3 percent growth and there are concerns that growth will be slowing in the coming years.

“This quarter was a seasonal issue, the market expected a low number, GDP actually came in at a higher number than the market expected, so I don’t think this quarter was an issue at all,” said Mnuchin.  “Everything I am hearing from business people, from workers, from people I meet with there’s a lot of investment going on in the U.S. we couldn’t be more excited about the opportunity for growth.”

Mnuchin says the country is well on its way to the goal of sustained economic growth.