President Donald Trump isn’t offering “general amnesty” to Huawei Technologies as part of an agreement to restart trade talks with China, said Larry Kudlow, the White House National Economic Council director.
The decision made by Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping to get back to the negotiating table is “a very big deal,” Kudlow said on “Fox News Sunday,” the first of two TV appearances for the day.
Still, he said there are no firm promises and no timetable for completion of a potential sweeping trade agreement, and that China still needs to address the issues that the U.S. has said caused the discussions to fall apart in early May.
“That’s a very important point of these talks. However long that may take, it is impossible to predict,” Kudlow said.
Kudlow repeated an assessment made days before the talks broke down, that the U.S. and China are 90% done on a trade deal. The final 10% will be the hardest, he said.
The world’s two largest economies are resuming trade talks and holding off on new tariffs after Trump and Xi met Saturday on the sidelines of the Group of 20 Summit in Osaka, Japan. Trump said he’s easing restrictions on China’s Huawei, a concession that’s rankled U.S. lawmakers, including some Republicans.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer on Saturday criticized Trump’s negotiation tactics, saying curtailing restrictions on Huawei diminishes the U.S.’s leverage to get China to agree to a trade deal that is favorable to American companies.
“Huawei is one of few potent levers we have to make China play fair on trade,” Schumer said in an emailed statement. “If President Trump backs off, as it appears he is doing, it will dramatically undercut our ability to change China’s unfair trades practices.”
The decision lets U.S. companies sell to China’s most prominent technology company, easing restrictions the Commerce Department imposed in May. Trump is also delaying new tariffs to an additional $300 billion worth of imports from China.
Kudlow says he expects the U.S. Commerce Department under Secretary Wilbur Ross to “grant some temporary licenses” on sales to Huawei, especially on items that are widely available from other countries and that don’t raise national security concerns.
“This is not a general amnesty,” he said. The president shares the concerns of lawmakers about national security and plans to meet with “senators and others” to discuss the issue, Kudlow added. “Huawei will remain on the so-called entity list where there are serious export controls,” he said.
On Saturday, Senator Marco Rubio, Republican of Florida, termed Trump’s move “a catastrophic mistake” and predicted that Congress would reinstate restrictions on Huawei through legislation that could attract a veto-proof majority.
In a separate interview on CBS’ “Face the Nation,” Kudlow said the U.S. planned to fully address “much larger issues concerning the long term future with Huawei” at the end of the trade talks with China, whenever that is.