Ex-Trump Advisor: Deal with China Still a 'Coin Toss' Despite Mar-A-Lago Summit Plans

February 11, 2019

By Chloe Aiello

President Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping are reportedly considering a meeting at Trump's Mar-a-Lago Resort in March to resume trade talks. But whether or not any major developments will result is a toss-up, former State Department Senior Advisor Christian Whiton told Cheddar.

"It's still a coin toss as to whether or not there's a big deal, but Wall Street seems to take it for granted. I think it's less likely, and what's more likely, it's going to be a very long-term process of jousting," said Whiton, who served as an advisor for both Trump and former President George W. Bush.

Axios reported on Sunday that Trump's advisers have discussed hosting a summit at the president's Palm Beach, Fla., resort in an attempt to resolve the ongoing trade standoff between the U.S. and China. Sources informed Axios that the summit could come as soon as mid-March, although neither the date nor the location have been officially set.

A mid-March summit would come after the March 2 deadline Trump set to hike tariffs from 10 percent to 25 percent on $200 billion in Chinese goods. Whiton said the summit could potentially lead to further delays.

"My guess is that if a summit was scheduled, it would be hard for the administration to go ahead with that increase," he said. "Having said that, there is some jousting within the administration between hardliners ... who want tariffs on sooner as added pressure, and the Wall Street crowd."

Whiton also said that China has done little to address major concerns over intellectual property theft and anti-competitive behaviors.

"What I understand is China really hasn't been that forthcoming in the systemic reform that Trump really wants, and frankly that there is bipartisan consensus for," he said. "They are sort of saying, 'meet us halfway on those things.' But that is extremely hard to do."

Trump has been pushing for adjustments in trade policies with China even before he stepped into the Oval Office. The two powers have been tangled in a retaliatory trade war since Trump first leveraged tariffs in early 2018.

For full interview click here.