July 17, 2018 / 10:01 PM / a year ago

Treasury's Mnuchin has no China meetings at Argentina G20, official says

U.S. Secretary of the Treasury Steven Mnuchin testifies to the House Financial Services hearing on state of the international financial system on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., July 12, 2018. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin has no formal bilateral meetings planned with Chinese officials at this weekend’s G20 finance ministers and central bank governors meeting in Argentina, a senior Treasury official said on Tuesday.

The official said, however, that there would be ample opportunities for Mnuchin to interact with Chinese officials in G20 group sessions, dinners and informal settings to discuss trade issues dividing the two countries.

Mnuchin told U.S. lawmakers last week the Trump administration was prepared to reopen talks with China to resolve trade issues, but only if Beijing was willing to pursue “serious efforts to make structural changes” to its policies.

The United States and China have imposed tariffs on $34 billion of each other’s imports, and President Donald Trump has threatened tariffs on over $500 billion worth of Chinese goods, effectively covering all U.S. imports from China, unless Beijing agrees to changes in its intellectual property practices and high-technology industrial subsidy plans.

The Treasury official said that Mnuchin was “ready to re-engage with the Chinese,” but it did not have to be in a formal bilateral meeting at the G20 finance gathering.

“The secretary has had substantial contact with Chinese officials, and so there’s not the imperative at this meeting to have formal bilaterals because there’ll be substantial contact,” the official said.

Mnuchin also will discuss with his G7 counterparts China’s trade practices in an hour-long session, the official said.

The meeting will “renew” a lot of the Western industrial powers’ concerns over China’s industrial subsidies, export credits and lending to developing countries, the official added.

“The G7 has had substantial discussions and finds common ground with regard to the concerns over China’s non-market practices,” the official said.

Reporting by David Lawder; Editing by James Dalgleish

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