Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross says President Trump uses unpredictability as a way to get what he wants.
Continue Reading Below
It's a "negotiating tool,” Ross told FOX Business’ Neil Cavuto on “Mornings with Maria,” in response to a question about Bloomberg's report that the president's impulsiveness was making China reluctant to strike a trade agreement with the U.S.
“We wouldn’t have gotten as far as he has now if he were a run-of-the-mill old fashioned in-the-rut type president," Ross added. "That’s not what he is, That’s not why American people elected him. They elected him for what he is. He's willing to take challenges, willing to take on some risk.”
Bloomberg's report on Thursday, which cited people familiar with the matter, said Beijing was not willing to reach a grand bargain on trade with Trump because of fear he would back out of the deal. It was Beijing, however, that reneged on a deal earlier this year.
Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping were scheduled to sign phase one of a trade agreement negotiated since on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Santiago, Chile, next month, but the conference was canceled due to unrest in the country.
Ross says the U.S. and China are still figuring out when and where the two leaders will meet.
"It was nice having the natural deadline of the Chilean conference because that made everybody focus on a finite date,” Ross said. “Hopefully we can resurrect a date right in that range 'cause we know there's a gap in President Trump's calendar. We know there's a gap in President Xi's. "So the question ought to be where not when.”
As part of the incremental deal, Beijing is making concessions on intellectual property, financial services and agriculture. The U.S. has agreed not to raise existing duties on $250 billion of Chinese goods from 25 percent to 30 percent on Oct. 15. A decision has not yet been made on tariffs on $160 billion scheduled for Dec. 15.
"We’re pretty comfortable that the phase one is in good shape,” Ross said. Trump has said a comprehensive trade deal may require two or three phases.