Pence: tariffs part of enforcement in a US-China trade deal

Washington (AFP) –


The removal of tough US tariffs on Chinese goods will be part of enforcing any new trade deal between Beijing and Washington, US Vice President Mike Pence said Friday.

Pence told CNBC television that President Donald Trump remained "very hopeful" about the current round of trade talks, which officials have repeatedly said are nearing a conclusion.

"The manner in which tariffs would come off is going to be a part of an enforcement mechanism and all of that is a subject of negotiations as we talk," Pence said.

Chinese officials are due in Washington on Wednesday to continue talks held in Beijing this week.

Last year, the world's two top economies slapped tariffs on more than $360 billion in two-way merchandise trade as Washington accused China of seeking global industrial dominance on the back of alleged unfair trade practices, such as forced technology transfer and massive state intervention in markets.

The tariffs have hit the US agricultural sector and both sides' manufacturing industries.

But American officials have demanded that any agreement have teeth to prevent the Chinese side from backsliding on commitments they make.

US officials have been reluctant to say publicly whether they expect to lift the tariffs as part of any agreement or keep them in place as a guarantee.

"We had a briefing here at the White House yesterday," Pence told CNBC. "We're going to be welcoming the vice premier next week and those negotiations are ongoing. President Trump remains very hopeful."

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin has said the trade deal's enforcement provisions are nearly complete.

But analysts say it remains unclear how far China will go in meeting US demands for fundamental changes in industrial policy that could weaken the communist party's hold on power.