China is willing to buy up nearly $70 billion in US products like soybeans, corn, natural gas, crude oil, and coal in the first year of a deal if the Trump administration forgets about its threatened trade tariffs. Extending what Business Insider calls "a massive olive branch," Chinese negotiators presented Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross with the option over the weekend on the condition that the administration dump threatened tariffs on $50 billion worth of Chinese products, to go into effect after June 15, officials briefed on the negotiations tell the Wall Street Journal. President Trump previously suggested this might be done if a $375 billion US trade deficit with China is reduced by $200 billion annually. The offer—representing "a 50% increase in US exports from 2017 levels," economist Chad Bown tells the Washington Post—could make a dent.
However, US officials argue there would be little impact on the trade deficit as energy exports would have to be diverted to China from other destinations. There are also concerns about the ability to ramp up agricultural production to meet China's needs. On top of that, the deal "would not address the underlying, long-run concerns the United States has with China," including its foreign investment restrictions and requirement that US cloud-computing firms share their technology with Chinese partners, Bown says. Still, China appears optimistic, with a negotiator claiming the two sides "have made positive and concrete progress." Per the New York Times, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Tuesday "we're in the negotiation process" and "our focus is to make sure we get good deals." (Read more China stories.)