Trade Deal Between the U.S. and China is Likely as Talks Resume, Puzder Says

March 20, 2019

By Spencer Feingold

With negotiations set to resume between the U.S. and China, author and former CEO Andy Puzder told Cheddar he thinks that weakness in the Chinese economy will motivate the country to strike a trade agreement.

“I think the odds of a deal are pretty strong,” said Puzder, who is the former head of CKE Restaurants and President Trump's one-time pick for Labor Secretary. Puzder, who withdrew his name from consideration for the Cabinet role, also recently published a book in support of President Trump's economic policies.

Puzder said that his optimism stemmed largely from China’s desire to secure a deal to mitigate the "drag on the Chinese economy," which is driving down exports and GDP growth. “The people want growth,” he said. “You don't grow by offending your largest customer.”

U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin will travel to Beijing later this month to meet with Chinese Vice Premier Liu He and continue talks, The Wall Street Journal first reported Tuesday. Negotiators hope to finalize a deal by the end of April.

“Both sides need a deal, both sides want a deal,” Puzder said.

Talks between the world’s two largest economies stalled last month after negotiators failed to agree on key issues, such as protections for intellectual property rights, tariffs, and agricultural trading. President Trump delayed the increase of tariffs, which were set to go into effect March 1, to allow negotiations to continue.

“Our president is negotiating for the best possible deal he can get,” Puzder said.

Last week, Lighthizer told the Senate Finance Committee that “our hope is we are in the final weeks of an agreement.”

However, Puzder added that getting the right deal is of the utmost importance ー “if it takes a little longer to do it, it takes a little longer to do it.” He stressed that a good deal is one that includes enforcement mechanisms to protect the U.S. against intellectual property theft and hacking.

President Trump commented on the negotiations yesterday at the White House, saying “China is going very well. Talks with China are going very well.”

For full interview click here.