U.S. officials are debating ratcheting back tariffs on Chinese imports as a way to calm markets and give Beijing an incentive to make deeper concessions in a trade battle that has rattled global economies.
The idea of lifting some or all tariffs was proposed by Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin in a series of strategy meetings, according to people close to internal deliberations. They say the aim is to advance trade talks and win China’s support for longer-term reforms.
But Mnuchin faces resistance from U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, who is concerned that any concession could be seen as a sign of weakness, these people said.
The debate is occurring as trade officials try to figure out the best way to pry concessions from China. It hasn’t yet reached President Donald Trump, and the outcome of the discussions aren’t possible to forecast. In past China discussions, Trump has sided with Lighthizer on tariffs, rather than Mnuchin. But this time, the president has made clear he wants a deal — and is pressing Lighthizer to deliver one, according to people familiar with the discussions.