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China-US economic, trade consensuses "meet interests of the people": vice premier

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Ammar Awad  Reuters

The ban amounted to a death sentence for ZTE, which relies heavily on US parts, and the company announced that it was halting operations. This is, what we hope, will be a path forward. "So nothing's been lost at all".

The United States has agreed to suspend the imposition of tariffs on up to $150 billion worth of Chinese goods, measures that had been scheduled to commence at the end of the month. But he indicated that they could be imposed if a trade deal with China did not make progress.

Mnuchin pushed back against the suggestion that the economic team was not aligned, saying that he, Ross and Robert Lighthizer, the USA trade representative, are on the same page.

"Peter has been an important part of the team", Mnuchin said of Navarro, a longtime China critic who has been pushing internally for the United States to take a tougher approach.

Larry Kudlow, director of the National Economic Council, described the joint statement that China and the United States issued as akin to a peace treaty and predicted that a significant deal was within reach.

"We are not out of the danger zone yet", said Nick Marro, a China analyst with the Economist Intelligence Unit.

The pace of talks remains unclear, and the Trump administration has been careful to avoid hard deadlines for a breakthrough.

"The U.S.", Lighthizer continued, "may use all of its legal tools to protect our technology through tariffs, investment restrictions and export regulations".

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Treasury Secretary Mnuchin predicted a big increase - 35 percent to 45 percent this year alone - in farm sales to China and a doubling in sales of energy products to the Chinese market. "It's ready to be fired whenever it needs to be fired".

"I encourage [the administration] to brief the Hill and let us know where it is because obviously, we've been very engaged in concerns about trade issues", Sen.

With Trump administration members sending mixed messages on the status of trade negotiations with China, lawmakers are urging the White House to clarify its position and to keep the pressure on the Chinese to stop them from stealing intellectual property.

ZTE, hit by a seven-year ban in April which effectively crippled its operations, would gain a major reprieve after the world's two largest economies stepped back from the brink of a fully blown trade war following talks last week.

However, although the ZTE deal proposal comes alongside a Chinese offer to remove tariffs on USA agricultural products, a Journal source said: "The White House was meticulous in affirming that the case is a law enforcement matter and not a bargaining chip in negotiations". The U.S. needs the help of Beijing, which wields influence in Pyongyang, to help seal North Korea's border and prevent goods from reaching Kim's regime in violation of global sanctions.

But in April, the Commerce Department said ZTE instead paid full bonuses to employees who engaged in the illegal conduct, failed to issue letters of reprimand and lied about the practices to US authorities. The company has suffered since the United States prevented it from purchasing USA components. In a series of tweets last week Trump suggested he was open to easing up on ZTE.

In an interview earlier on Monday with CNBC, Mnuchin characterized the US tariff plan as suspended, but warned that "the president can always put tariffs back on".

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