In Beijing and then Washington, senior trade delegations have been working to hammer out a trade deal for the past few weeks, offering few details other than a stream of optimistic, if vague, headlines. But on Friday, both sides offered some positive signals, with China's Xinhua touting 'progress' made at talks in Washington, while President Trump said the two sides were roughly 'four weeks out' from a deal.
With the administration desperate to keep the seven-day S&P 500 winning streak alive heading into this week (as Marko Kolanovic's target of S&P 500 3,000 is looking like it could feasibly be reached in the not-too-distant future), Larry Kudlow took to Face the Nation to try and talk the administration's book.
Kudlow told his interviewer that talks would continue this week 'via teleconferencing' and that the talks so far "have been productive". But in keeping with the administration's mantra that 'vague is good', Kudlow refused to directly confirm the Xinhua reports from Friday about a deal being reached on IP theft and forced technology transfers, saying only that "great progress" has been made on IP and "good progress" has been made on forced transfer of technology.
"We're closer than we ever have been before. A lot of very difficult topics for the first time are on the table and being resolved."
Still, the thorny issue of enforcement remains a sticking point, Kudlow said.
MARGARET BRENNAN: On China, president says we're four weeks out from a possible epic trade deal with them. What has actually been agreed upon?
KUDLOW: Well you know, all these negotiations we just get closer and closer. It's really interesting. We made good headway last week when Vice Premier Liu He was here. This coming week, there'll be a lot of teleconferencing among the top tier people to continue the discussions. We're closer than we ever have been before. A lot of very difficult topics for the first time are on the table and being resolved. I think that's terribly important. The talks have been productive. I think the president here too expressed- I was in the room, whatever Thursday- guarded optimism, may- maybe more than guarded optimism so we're- we're gaining on it.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Chinese say there's an IP agreement, intellectual property agreement. Is there?
KUDLOW: I can't go into details on this but we've made great progress on the IP theft. We've made good progress on the forced transfer of technology, on the ownership. There are issues outstanding, not least of which are going to be enforcement related issues. But in each and every place, (A) they've acknowledged their problems. That was a very big hurdle. And (B) what wasn't on the table is on the table, and (C) we're getting closer and closer.
With US stock futures pointing to a lower open following weak trading sessions in Asia and Europe, we imagine the next batch of optimistic trade headlines will hit in the not-too-distant future (our money's on 20 minutes before the open).
Watch the interview below: