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U.S.-China Trade, Plan B for the Iran Deal, Violence in Gaza

On a panel with CGTN’s The Heat, IPI’s Dr. Merrill Matthews tackled new trade talks between the U.S. and China, violence in Gaza after the opening of the U.S. embassy in Jerusalem, and what’s next for the Iran nuclear deal as European leaders meet with Iran post-U.S. withdrawal.

Conflicting messages appear to be coming from the administration regarding U.S. and China trade, especially pertaining to possible restrictions on Chinese telecommunication company ZTE as part of “the larger trade deal.” 

“These days, confusing messages coming out of Washington is basically the status quo,” joked Matthews, acknowledging however, that Trump shows he is willing to work with President Xi.

“I think President XI has been very forthright saying there’s several things they can work on,” said Matthews. “And Trump recently tweeted he thinks they can reach an agreement. There’s a lot of movement here. He’s optimistic that an agreement can be reached. And I am too.”

Explaining his optimism, Matthews said, “Larry Kudlow is guiding that. He’s a very smart economist… a free trade guy. He would like to make sure that both countries maximize their trade opportunities.”

Matthews also took time to address the political risks involved in President Trump not moving forward on pro-growth trade policy. “It is a big political risk for him. Three or four months ago the U.S. economy looked strong. But now there are numerous reports saying businesses are scaling back, not investing, not hiring, simply because they don’t know whether they will get slapped with tariffs. That could be very damaging to the economy.”

“Trump doesn’t need that going into the November elections,” warned Matthews. “It’s a huge political risk for him.”

Shifting to life after the U.S. withdrawal from the Iran deal, Matthews responded to complaints from the international community about the U.S. not having a “Plan B.”

“Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has made it clear he would like to reach an agreement with other countries and Iran,” said Matthews. “There are two issues driving this from the U.S. standpoint: Iran continuing to test ballistic missiles and its state sponsor of terrorism, including Hamas. If Iran scales back on these activities, you may see the U.S willing to compromise on a deal. One of President Trump’s biggest complaints is these factors weren’t in the initial agreement.”

Click here to watch the full discussion.  

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