KTEP - El Paso, Texas

U.S. And China Agree To Restart Trade Talks

Jun 29, 2019
Copyright 2019 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

SARAH MCCAMMON, HOST:

The U.S. and China have agreed to restart trade talks, and the Trump administration will hold off, for now, on another round of costly tariffs. President Trump announced the trade truce after meeting Chinese President Xi Jinping on the sidelines of the G-20 summit in Osaka, Japan. Trump has also invited North Korean leader Kim Jong Un to meet this weekend in the Demilitarized Zone dividing North and South Korea. NPR's Scott Horsley is traveling with the president and joins us now from the Osaka airport. Hi, Scott.

SCOTT HORSLEY, BYLINE: Good to be with you, Sarah.

MCCAMMON: So on China, this agreement between President Trump and President Xi, what does it mean?

HORSLEY: It doesn't resolve the trade war between the U.S. and China, but at least for now, it means there won't be any additional casualties. President Trump says, for now, he will not follow through on his threat to slap new tariffs on some $300 billion worth of additional Chinese imports. Had he done so, that would have meant higher prices on a lot of consumer items. So that's a bit of relief.

But the president acknowledged there are still unresolved issues surrounding intellectual property protection, for example, and forced transfer of American technological know-how. Those are the kinds of things that led the U.S. to launch this trade war in the first place.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: This doesn't mean there's going to be a deal, but they would like to make a deal, I can tell you that. And if we could make a deal, it would be a very historic event.

HORSLEY: Trump says China has agreed to resume buying soybeans and other farm products. That'd be good for farmers who've been caught in the crossfire of the trade war. And for now, the president will also let U.S. tech companies keep supplying components to the Chinese telecom giant Huawei, although Huawei's broader fate will be left for later in the negotiations.

MCCAMMON: All right, and now Trump is in South Korea, where he's scheduled to meet with President Moon Jae-in. But talk, Scott, about that surprise twist with the Demilitarized Zone.

HORSLEY: Trump issued an invitation via Twitter for North Korean leader Kim Jong Un to meet him in the DMZ tomorrow for a quick handshake and hello. You'll remember the talks aimed at ending North Korea's nuclear program have pretty much been at a standstill ever since the last Trump-Kim summit collapsed back in February with no deal. Trump and Kim have exchanged some personal messages, though, in recent days. And so this is a way for Trump to kind of lay out the red carpet for the North Korean dictator for what the president has acknowledged would be little more than a two-minute photo op.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

TRUMP: And I just put out a feeler because I don't know where he is right now. He may not be in North Korea. But I said if Chairman Kim would want to meet, I'll be at the border. I'd certainly - we seem to get along very well. I can tell you we seem to get along. That's a good thing, not a bad thing. You know, for the stupid people that say, oh, he gets along - no, it's good to get along.

HORSLEY: Trump says his invitation did get a quick and positive response from the North Korean government, which suggests someone there at least follows the president's Twitter feed. But he added there is no guarantee that Kim will actually show up for this handshake.

MCCAMMON: All right. And, of course, Scott, this is Trump freelancing, as he so often does, doing Twitter diplomacy his own way. What about the G-20 - this big, global gathering of leaders from the world's biggest economies - did anything come from those meetings?

HORSLEY: You know, since Trump came into office, the U.S. has sometimes been the odd man out at these global get-togethers. And that was certainly true here in Osaka when it comes to the subject of climate change. This was kind of the G-19 against one, with the U.S. being in the minority. Trump has announced plans to withdraw the United States from the Paris climate accord that just about every other country in the world is a party to. But the president bristled when a reporter asked him why his administration is ignoring the dangers of a warming planet.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

TRUMP: I'm not looking to put our companies out of business. I'm not looking to create a standard that is so high that we're going to lose 20-25% of our production. I'm not willing to do that.

HORSLEY: The president falsely claimed the U.S. has the cleanest air ever. Of course, his administration's been working to loosen limits on air pollution. And after falling for years, America's carbon pollution is once again on the rise.

MCCAMMON: That's NPR's Scott Horsley. Thanks, Scott.

HORSLEY: You're welcome, Sarah. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.