President Donald Trump's commitment to work toward a sweeping trade deal with China in the next three months sets up a pivotal stretch for one of his top campaign goals: reshaping U.S. trade relationships around the globe.
The Trump administration and the Chinese government agreed to a temporary trade truce Saturday night, pledging to delay threatened tariffs for 90 days while they work toward a concrete trade deal. (Top Trump economic advisor Larry Kudlow told reporters Monday that the 90-day timetable will start Jan. 1, but the White House later issued a correction saying the timetable starts December 1.) Washington will push Beijing to address thorny issues such as forced technology transfers and alleged intellectual property theft — which the two sides have failed to resolve despite months of attempts.
The commitment to talk throws Trump into the most high-stakes period yet in his yearslong effort to crack down on what he calls unfair trade practices. At the same time as the China talks play out, the president will try to push his revision of the North American Free Trade Agreement through a skeptical and divided Congress.
Trump is eager to declare victory on trade after arguing as a candidate and in the White House that China's practices and the pact with Canada and Mexico punished American workers. But to do so, the volatile president will have to navigate delicate talks on two fronts. Failure in either effort could upend U.S. relationships with its three largest trading partners and shake the American and global economies.