US President Donald Trump’s chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney, said on Tuesday that trade negotiations with China are set to wrap up, but that a deal is not assured.
“The president is not going to do a deal for the sake of doing a deal,” Mulvaney said during an event at the Milken Institute Global Conference. “If it’s not a great deal we’re not going to do it,” he stressed.
When asked whether an end to the protracted talks might come within two weeks, Mulvaney said that was a fair assumption.
“I think you’ll, know one way or the other, in the next couple weeks,” he said.
“It won’t go on forever. I think, at some point, in any negotiation you realize we’re close to getting something done so we’re going to keep going. On the other hand, at some point, you can think this is not going to get anywhere,” he said, stressing that the administration does not have “deal fever,” and would be willing to walk away.
Mulvaney also weighed in on other policy challenges facing the administration, including the likelihood of Congress approving the re-negotiated North American Free Trade Agreement.
While Democrats have suggested that changes need to be made before they would agree to any deal, he said that was not a likely scenario, as it would require re-opening negotiations with Canada and Mexico.
He was cautiously optimistic that the Democratic leadership would come around on the issue of the US-Canada-Mexico Agreement, as NAFTA was rebranded, but less so on infrastructure spending.
Democratic Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer met with Trump on Tuesday to discuss cooperating on legislation to build infrastructure, but Mulvaney was skeptical.
“I think there is a much better chance of getting the USMCA passed than there is of getting infrastructure passed.”