Monday, December 3, 2018

Impromtu at White House with NEC Director Larry Kudlow

December 3, 2018

This morning National Economic Council Director Larry Kudlow gave an impromptu press briefing to answer questions regarding the G20 meeting in Argentina. First, Mr. Kudlow paid tribute and homage to George H.W. Bush who he remembered as "an old and personal friend." Mr. Kudlow stated that a team of individuals including Mr. Kudlow himself, Secretary Mnuchin and Ambassador Bob Lighthizer were involved in the negotiations but that he was not the main negotiator. He praised Ambassador Lighthizer stating that he "is a fabulous negotiator,  and what is very important is enforcement mechanisms. Mr Kudlow stated that he and Secretary Mnuchin attended two meetings with Vice Premier Liu He prior to the dinner meeting and that China is ready to move "Immediately on the New Commitments".

Mr Kudlow continued," Ambassador Lighthiser is very good a this i.e., enforcement, monitoring and timetables to try to keep China on track. Literally they can start today. This is the furthest and most specific we have ever come". In a very positive and optimistic manner, Mr Kudlow stated President Xi has never been this involved". Consistent with what President Trump has always stated about his relationship with President Xi, Kudlow stated. "The Presentation Xi gave to President Trump was unbelievable and the chemistry between Xi and Trump is also amazing". 

"President Xi has never been this specific and therefore is being very candid and truthful, we have heard things we have never heard before." Kudlow continued, "They can not slow walk this or stall this, but expect firming results. It was their word "Immediate".

The topics discussed were structural: Tariffs, Intellectual Property Theft, Cyber Security, and licensing issues. Mr Kudlow stated there were "a large number of transactions on energy and agriculture but added that these are private sector transactions not governmental. If they follow through and make America export, sales will boom with regard to China because we are the most competitive country in the world, we have the strongest economy".

When questioned about the 90 day implementation was incremental, Kudlow said this, " At the end of the 90 days they have to show significant progress. Look at it by topics, Tariff reduction, larger exports, larger purchases on their side, various technology issues, cyber security", Kudlow added, "President trump is very personally involved in the details, and why we are all so tired after all these meetings, level of detail never been better from them".

When questioned about China's level of commitment, Kudlow had this to say, " This is YUGE, President Xi has never been involved in that kind of detail, that's huge. At the dinner Xi gave the pitch for China, he was the policy man, not his aids, he was the detail guy. They were so well prepared and so was President Trump, the two of them, and we have come further than we have ever come before".

Mr. Kudlow stated that there weren't any non-negotiables,we have outlines in a number of key areas, nothing is off the table". And on a final point Kudlow said the amount we are dealing with is in the ballpark of over $1.2 Trillion Dollars and that will depend on things like consumer demand, reducing tariffs, structure change, and non-tariff licensing.

Story by Louisa @ The GoldFish Report

Secretary Steven Mnuchin on G20

December 3, 2018

At the White  House this morning Treasure Secretary Steven Mnuchin answered reporters questions regarding the recent G20 meetings in Argentina. Mnuchin  stated, “There a lot of work to be done but one specific area is a significant increase in Industrial Products. There is a specific understanding to turn the agreement the two presidents have made into a real agreement over the 90 days. Some issues will be phased in over the 90 days and some issues may need more detailed work. This is the first time there is a commitment from China that the agreement will include specific dates, specific targets, specific action. This is not going to be just kicking the can down the road.”

Secretary Mnuchin also said there they were specific discussions about tariffs  but wouldn’t comment on those specifics at this time.  “ There were very, very specific items. We have been working on this over the past hear and a half and this is the first time where they exchanged specifics and structural it es. President Xi laid out out for President Trump exactly what they are prepared to do on these issues, issues covering everything from purchasing work goods, protecting intellectual property, protecting US technology, but part of the discussion was making sure they don’t depreciate the currency to harm the US workers and US companies. They were very detailed discussions and the dinner between President Trump and President Xi  was for over three hours".

In response to a question about what impact Americans will immediately feel from this, how confident they are about China keeping their word and whether they expect more volitility Secretary Mnuchin responded, “In the very short term there will be visible changes in agriculture, you are going to see very specific changes right away. In taking President Xi at his word in his commitment to President Trump, they have to deliver on this.  President Trump has been very clear that he expects to move forward with their agreement and he reserves the ability to do additional tariffs if we are not successful".

In terms of the ‘chemistry’ between the two leaders Mnuchin stated, “There were major structural issues discussed. President Trump talked about creating real change in willingness to address issues and I think President Xi and President Trump developed  a relationship and recognize the two largest economies and understand their responsibilities”.

Secretary Mnuchin also mentioned there were specific discussions about North Korea and mentioned that Secretary of State Pompeo is doing a great job coming out of those meetings in China. He also commented that cyber issues was another topic discussed and that there is a real commitment across the board on this issue. When a reporter asked Mnuchin whether he could guarantee that China is no longer spying on us, Mnuchin had this to say, “ I  can assure you that we are going to work with intelligence, Department of Homeland Security has certain specific responsibilities, I have certain specific financial responsibilities and that we have tools to know what’s gong on and what's not going on. We are going to protect US companies and make sure they (China) lives up to their agreements, its very important to the President. They have rules and regulations that need to be changed, that was very important to President Trump".

Secretary Mnuchin also commented that this was the third major meeting between them and that President Trump extended an invitation to President Xi for a US visit and President  Xi also extended an invitation to President Trump for a China visit.

Lastly, when asked about whether the tariffs end up being paid by the taxpayer or government Secretary Mnuchin replied,” The U.S. Treasury does take in the tariffs , we are collecting tariffs”, but likened it to a real estate transaction ,” Its like real estate commissions, sometimes they are paid by the buyer and sometimes by the seller. Some of these are absorbed by the foreign producers, some are passed on to to US companies,  but of course.”

Story by Louisa @ The Goldfish Report