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US Treasury boss downplays hopes of full China deal before presidential election

Steve Mnuchin was speaking at the World Economic Forum in Switzerland.

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The logo of the World Economy Forum is displayed on a door at the Congress Centre in Davos, Switzerland (Markus Schreiber/AP)

The logo of the World Economy Forum is displayed on a door at the Congress Centre in Davos, Switzerland (Markus Schreiber/AP)

The logo of the World Economy Forum is displayed on a door at the Congress Centre in Davos, Switzerland (Markus Schreiber/AP)

US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin downplayed talk that trade discussions with China will be wrapped up by this November’s US presidential election.

Speaking at a panel at the World Economic Forum in the Swiss resort of Davos, Mr Mnuchin said there is “no deadline” to the so-called phase two discussions.

Last week, the US and China signed off a phase one agreement, which eases some sanctions on China while Beijing has agreed to step up its purchases of US farm products and other goods.

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Steven Mnuchin (Toby Melville/AP)

Steven Mnuchin (Toby Melville/AP)

PA Archive/PA Images

Steven Mnuchin (Toby Melville/AP)

However, many issues remain unresolved and tariffs imposed by President Donald Trump over the past couple of years remain in place.

Mr Mnuchin said “we couldn’t be more pleased” with both the phase one agreement and the conclusion of trade negotiations with Canada and Mexico.

He said “a lot of important issues” were dealt with in phase one, which “gives us a great advantage in phase two”.

He said there was “no question” that tariffs and the threat of tariffs have been a “big incentive” in the trade agreements.

He also hinted that a grand trade agreement with China may not come in one go and that there may be a series of smaller agreements.

PA