U.S. would re-open trade talks if China makes major changes: Mnuchin

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States and China could reopen talks on trade but only if Beijing is willing to make significant changes, U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said on Thursday.

“I would say to the extent that the Chinese want to make serious efforts to make structural changes, I and the administration are available any time to discuss those,” Mnuchin said during a hearing before lawmakers in Washington.

Pressed on the possible negative impact of multiple trade disputes on the U.S. economy, Mnuchin said the Trump administration was keeping a watchful eye.

“We are monitoring very carefully the impact of tariffs and we will continue to do so,” he said.

On Wednesday, China said it would hit back after Washington escalated their trade dispute, threatening 10 percent tariffs on $200 billion of Chinese goods.

Mnuchin also said that the renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement was a big priority for the administration now that Mexico’s recent presidential election had passed.

The United States, Canada and Mexico have been negotiating to revamp the 24-year-old trade pact since last August, but talks have stalled over U.S. demands on autos and other issues.

Reporting by Lindsay Dunsmuir; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and David Gregorio