A Chinese delegation traveled to Washington for high level trade talks last week and various White House officials have said they felt good about the talks, but did they actually make any progress?
We have no idea and it appears the White House doesn't either.
“Exactly how much progress we made last week and how much progress we’ll make when Secretary (Steven) Mnuchin and Ambassador (Robert) Lighthizer head off to China is something ... we’re still waiting to see,” [Kevin Hassett], chairman of the White House Council of Economic Advisers, told CNBC in an interview referring to the head of the U.S. Department of the Treasury and the U.S. trade representative.
Hassett said he has remained hopeful throughout the talks with Beijing and was pleased that negotiations were continuing. But, he added, “there’s still a lot of work to do.”
If it's true that they didn't make any progress, that could explain why Trump said he would personally oversee final negotiations with Chinese President Xi Jinping.
It's possible that Trump believes he could make a breakthrough in areas where his lackeys couldn't, but if that's the case it would only be because he placed them in an untenable position they could never hope to negotiate their way out of. Trump has asked them to defy the laws of supply and demand and completely re-balance our trade relationship with China while offering virtually nothing in return. We've offered the Chinese nothing except an insulting respite from tariffs that were imposed on a whim.
Trump has asked his cabinet to achieve the impossible and it will be up to him to cave at the last minute because because they can't do it for him.