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Manufacturing leader on China: Trump 'has gotten their attention'

Heidi Chung
Reporter

After hitting another roadblock on trade negotiations last month, the U.S. and China have resumed discussions ahead of the widely-anticipated G-20 summit at the end of this month in Argentina.

The trade war between the two feuding nations has affected industries globally, but Jay Timmons, president and CEO of the U.S. National Association of Manufacturers (NAM), says that the Trump administration’s firm stance on trade could bring about progress sooner rather than later.

“The faster we can get to the negotiating table with China, the better it is for everybody in all sectors of the economy,” Timmons told Yahoo Finance at the All Markets Summit on Tuesday. “Getting [China] to play by the rules that every other country or every other developed economy is playing by is going to be really important. The rest of the world has a lot to gain as well, and we’re hopeful that other countries will weigh in in a positive way.”

‘What the president has done has gotten their attention’

Timmons explained that many presidents have tried but failed to get China to practice fair trade. Nevertheless, while the current administration’s methods may be unconventional, it is on the right track, said Timmons.

“Talking hasn’t worked, and it hasn’t worked for three administrations. So I can’t tell you if there’s a better solution to get China’s attention, [but] I can tell you that what the president has done has gotten their attention,” Timmons said.

U.S. President Donald Trump, right, chats with Chinese President Xi Jinping during a welcome ceremony at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing. China said Friday, Oct. 12, 2018. Photo: (AP/Andy Wong)

The meeting between Trump and Xi will be a closely-watched affair. as many hope the two nations will be able to make significant progress toward negotiations. In September, the White House announced a plan to increase tariffs on over $200 billion worth of Chinese goods from 10% to 25% effective January 1, 2019.

And while Beijing has not put forth a formal proposal yet, Timmons expressed concern that if the trade war intensifies and no further progress is made, manufacturing businesses could continue to be pushed out of business.

“We have complained about [unfair trade practices] as American citizens, as government officials and certainly the manufacturing sector. We’ve complained about the theft of intellectual property, which has not only cost potentially billions of dollars in stolen intellectual property, but some manufacturers have actually gone out of business because they couldn’t compete.”

He added, “I will not sit here and say tariffs are good … [but] I think they’re on the right track.”

Heidi Chung is a reporter for Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter: @heidi_chung.

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