US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin. Photo: Reuters / Carlo Allegri

Speaking at the US-China Business Council annual meeting, US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said a bilateral investment deal was on the docket, despite not being a top priority.

Mnuchin was quoted by the Wall Street Journal as saying that, after making progress on market-access for exports, “then we can turn to the bilateral investment agreement.”

The secretary also pushed back on lawmakers’ calls to use the Committee of Foreign Investment in the US (CFIUS) as a point of leverage to seek better trade terms with China:

“Fundamentally, we want to keep CFIUS as a national security review and we want to deal with economic issues separately,” he said. “I don’t think we want to confuse those issues.”

The WSJ was quick to point out that the Trump administration has not been shy about linking national security issues to trade, as it has with a review of China’s steel industry subsidies. Trump has also implied through tweets that rhetoric related to China currency manipulation was tied to Beijing’s cooperation on the North Korea nuclear issue.