U.S. senator: Lighthizer saw no progress on China structural trade issues

U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Grassley discusses FBI investigation into Kavanaugh assault allegations on Capitol Hill in Washington
FILE PHOTO: U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA) speaks during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., October 4, 2018. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas

January 15, 2019

By Humeyra Pamuk

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – United States Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer did not see any progress made on structural issues during trade talks with China last week, Republican U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley, who held a meeting with him, said on Tuesday.

In his weekly conference call with reporters, Grassley said Lighthizer commented very positively in the Friday meeting on China’s soybean purchases, which resumed in modest amounts last month after Washington and Beijing agreed to a 90-day truce in a trade war that has disrupted the flow of hundreds of billions of dollars of goods.

“But he (Lighthizer) said that there hasn’t been any progress made on structural changes that need to be made,” Grassley said, and added that those issues would include intellectual property, stealing trade secrets and putting pressure on corporations to share information.

The meeting came after mid-level U.S. and Chinese officials met in Beijing to discuss China’s offers to address U.S. complaints about intellectual property theft and increase purchases of U.S. goods and services. The two sides are trying to reach a deal that avoids a scheduled March 2 escalation of U.S. tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese goods.

Grassley said Chinese officials were due to visit Washington for further trade talks in a couple of weeks. “From my point of view … the economy of China is suffering … there is a chance for progress,” he said.

A USTR spokesman could not be immediately reached for comment on Grassley’s remarks to reporters. U.S. stocks pared gains following the news.

(Reporting by Humeyra Pamuk; Additional reporting by David Lawder; Editing by Phil Berlowitz)

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