Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross arrived in Beijing Saturday for weekend talks with Chinese Vice Premier Liu He, Beijing's chief representative in trade negotiations. Ross is expected to push China to make good on its recent pledge to "significantly increase purchases of United States goods and services," with an aim of reducing the U.S. trade deficit to China from $375 billion to $175 billion annually by 2020.
The trip comes just one day after the Trump administration imposed steel and aluminum tariffs on U.S. allies Canada, Mexico, and the European Union, and strengthening trade ties with China could offset the economic isolation the tariffs may produce.
"I actually feel a little sorry for Secretary Ross," Phil Levy, formerly a senior George W. Bush administration trade adviser, told Bloomberg. "You don't have much consistency coming out of this president, so it's uncertain how much confidence Secretary Ross can have, or the Chinese can have, that whatever they work out will actually amount to anything."