President Donald Trump is dispatching his top economic and trade advisers—Larry Kudlow, Robert Lighthizer and Peter Navarro—to join Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin on a visit to China, two people familiar with the matter said.
Mnuchin will depart for China within days to negotiate trade disputes, Trump said on Tuesday, adding that “we have a very good chance of making a deal.” If the two sides can’t reach agreement, the proposed U.S. tariffs on billions of dollars in Chinese goods will take effect as planned, the president said.
The itinerary isn’t finalized but the American delegation is scheduled to be in Beijing late next week—on Thursday and Friday, according to the people, who were granted anonymity to discuss administration planning. They added that the makeup of the delegation was not final.
Yet the details Trump is seeking in a deal aren’t clear, even to some of his senior advisers, according to two people familiar with the matter. In a meeting with White House officials held in the past week, some senior advisers to the president indicated that they weren’t sure what would make the president feel like he got a good trade deal, said the people.
One of Mnuchin’s goals for the trip is to show the Chinese deference as the two nations try to deal with North Korea, according to the people, who asked not to be named to discuss administration policy.
The trip will be Mnuchin’s first to China since he took office. Treasury civil servants encouraged Mnuchin to go there early in his tenure—as did his three most recent predecessors—but he decided against it, according to two people familiar with deliberations last year.
The Treasury Department has not announced Mnuchin’s travel dates. This week, Mnuchin is attending a conference in Paris on Thursday and Friday, and is scheduled to speak in Los Angeles on Monday afternoon.