But while expectations are high for a potential breakthrough during the leaders’ face-to-face meeting, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross over the weekend downplayed the prospect of a major trade deal emerging from the talks.
“I think the most that will come out of the G-20 might be an agreement to actively resume talks,” Ross said in an interview Sunday with The Wall Street Journal from Paris. Ross said the meeting might lay out “new ground rules for discussion and some sort of schedule for when detailed technical talks might resume.”
Kevin Hassett, the departing chairman of Trump’s Council of Economic Advisers, told reporters last week the U.S. president was “optimistic” he could find common ground with China.
But Trump has said he will only strike a deal on favorable terms, and said China must return to concessions they made in earlier rounds of talks. The U.S. president has repeated his claim that Chinese exporters bear the burden of the tariffs, disputing the consensus of economists that the costs are largely borne by U.S. consumers in the form of higher prices.
“They subsidize their industry, so our people are not paying,” Trump said Friday in an interview with Fox News. “There’s this big thing about tariffs, ‘Oh, our people pay.’ It’s a lot of nonsense. You know what happens, really? Companies move back.”
Trump’s announcement of the call came shortly after a tweet in which he again accused China and other countries of manipulating the value of their currencies, “making it unfairly easier for them to compete with the USA.”
China made moves to strengthen its currency earlier this month, and during Trump’s presidency the U.S. Treasury Department has repeatedly refrained from officially accusing China of manipulating the value of the renminbi.
While the U.S. has complained for years that China keeps its currency artificially weak through intervention in foreign-exchange markets, the central bank in recent days has acted to underpin the yuan. The People’s Bank of China set its daily reference rate for the currency at higher than market watchers expected for a 10th straight day on Wednesday, the longest run since September.