Mnuchin: US-China trade deal was 90 percent done before setback

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Wednesday a U.S.-China trade deal was nearly 90 percent done before talks collapsed but he remains hopeful talks will get back on track as President Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping meet in Japan during the G-20 summit amid ongoing tensions.

“We were about 90 percent of the way there [with a deal] and I think there’s a path to complete this,” Mnuchin said. “The message we want to hear is that they want to come back to the table and continue because I think there is a good outcome for their economy and the U.S. economy to get balanced trade and to continue to build on this relationship" he told CNBC.

Saturday will be the first time Trump and Xi meet in person since the U.S. president threatened to impose additional tariffs on $300 billion worth of Chinese goods. Trade tensions between the two countries escalated in May when Trump increased tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese imports to 25 percent. China retaliated by increasing tariffs on $60 billion worth of American products.

Mnuchin said he’s optimistic trade talks will move forward following the leaders’ G-20 meeting.

“I’m hopeful that we can move forward with a plan…President Trump and President Xi have a very close working relationship. We had a productive meeting at the last G-20,” Mnuchin told CNBC on Wednesday.

Trump confirmed last week he will be meeting with Xi during the summit after weeks of speculation whether the two leaders would speak in person. China had remained mum about the impending meeting, with Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang telling reporters earlier this month that the Chinese government will release more information when it's available.

Amid the trade stalemate, the U.S. also placed tech giant Huawei on a blacklist that effectively bars U.S. companies from supplying it with computer chips, software and other components without government approval. Several firms, including Facebook, Google and Panasonic, have since cut business ties with Huawei. The Trump administration has previously said Huawei is a national security issue — not a trade problem — amid the ongoing trade dispute with China.


The U.S. Commerce Department on Friday added five Chinese organizations involved in supercomputing with military-related applications to a so-called Entity List.

*This story has been updated following a correction issued by CNBC clarifying Steven Mnuchin's remarks on China.