Trump officials differ on investment curbs

By AAP Newswire

White House trade and manufacturing adviser Peter Navarro says any investment restrictions proposed by the Trump administration would target China and not other countries.

In an interview on CNBC, Navarro said the US Treasury Department would report to President Donald Trump on Friday on the issue of China investment restrictions "to defend our technology and intellectual property so that we can prosper in the future".

"All we're doing here with the president's trade policy is trying to defend our technology when it may be threatened. So this whole idea that there's going to be investment restrictions to the world, please, discount that," Navarro said.

It contradicted what Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin said earlier, that forthcoming investment restrictions from the department would not be specific to China but would apply "to all countries that are trying to steal our technology".

In a Twitter message on Monday, Mnuchin said stories on investment restrictions from Bloomberg and the Wall Street Journal "are false, fake news".

A government official told Reuters on Sunday night that the Treasury was drafting curbs that would block firms with at least 25 per cent Chinese ownership from buying US companies with "industrially significant technology".

Mnuchin's tweet came amid a difference of opinion among top Trump administration officials on how aggressive an approach should be taken in challenging China's trade practices. The administration is still debating some aspects of the new investment restrictions that are set to be announced on Friday, a government official said.

The disagreements were also about US tariffs on $US34 billion worth of Chinese goods that are scheduled to go into effect on July 6, which China said would trigger retaliation involving its imports of American soybeans and motor vehicles.

Mnuchin has been on the more moderate side of the debate, along with White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow, who is recovering from a heart attack. Arguing for a more aggressive approach to tariffs and investment restrictions on China are White House trade and manufacturing adviser Peter Navarro and US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer.

Last month, Mnuchin said a trade war with China was "on hold" after officials of the world's two largest economies held talks in Beijing that were focused on opening more sectors of China's economy and increasing purchases of American goods.

But on May 29, the White House announced that the Trump administration would proceed with a 25 per cent tariff on $US50 billion of Chinese goods and China-specific investment restrictions.