In apparent reversal, Navarro to take part in China trade talks

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Director of the White House National Trade Council Peter Navarro. Photo: AFP

Trump administration trade adviser Peter Navarro will be participating in discussions with a Chinese trade delegation in Washington this week.

It had been reported on Wednesday that Navarro had been sidelined and would not take part in talks with Chinese economic adviser Liu He on Thursday.

Jennifer Jacobs scooped the development for Bloomberg, citing two administration offiials:

“Navarro, 68, who once published a book titled Death by China and has long been hostile to the country, has lately behaved erratically and unprofessionally, the officials said. His exclusion from the meeting marks another downturn in his White House career, where he was long isolated by other senior officials before the president promoted him earlier this year to his top rank of aides.”

US President Donald Trump asked his Twitter followers to “stay tuned” for news on the trade talks, after a suggestion via tweet that he would try to ease penalties slapped on Chinese telecommunications firm ZTE. Backing off the ban on sales of components to ZTE was reportedly a prerequisite stipulated by the Chinese for trade talks even to begin.

Navarro’s reported sidelining – now in question – followed accounts that fellow trade hawk Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross was seen as losing sway. Politico wrote this week that Ross had also been largely sidelined in the trade negotiations, according to three people with knowledge of the matter.

“Ross – whom Trump once affectionately called a ‘killer,’ a high compliment in the president’s lexicon – has steadily become a bit player, with the president regularly leaning on Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and White House trade adviser Peter Navarro.”

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