Trump hopes for deal with China, end trade war
Washington: US President Donald Trump expressed optimism regarding the possibility of reaching an ambitious agreement with China to stop the ongoing trade war between the two nations, after a round of negotiations which brought “advances”.
Trump received the Chinese Vice Premier, Liu He, at the White House on Thursday, two days after bilateral negotiations aimed at preventing the US raising its tariffs from the current 10 per cent to 25 per cent on Chinese products from March 1, Efe news reported.
“This is going to be a very big deal or it’s going to be a deal that we’ll just postpone for a little,” Trump told the media following his meeting with Liu and the US and Chinese negotiating teams.
The meeting in the Oval Office began with the reading of a letter that President Xi Jinping had sent to Trump, and in which he asked him to continue negotiating in “a climate of mutual respect” and to “meet halfway”.
Liu revealed that China was willing to buy “five million tonnes of soybeans” from the US.
“That’s going to make our farmers happy. That’s a lot of soybeans,” said the US President, who considered the announcement a sign of “goodwill” on the part of China.
The Chinese delegation also offered to increase its purchases of US products and open the door to more investments from the US in its financial and manufacturing sectors, but supposedly did not offer any reforms to its economic and industrial policies.
As a condition for not tightening its tariffs on China, which range from textiles, food to fuels, the US also wants Beijing to commit to changes to protect the intellectual property of US companies and end what the US considers a forced transfer of technology.
Trump did not rule out that his possible trip to meet Xi could be part of a tour in which he also holds his second summit with Kim, the date and venue of which will be announced “early next week”, probably during the State of the Union address that the President will give on February 5.
“There are some points that we don’t agree on yet, but I think we will agree. I think, when President Xi and myself meet, every point will be agreed to,” Trump said.
Trump also appeared to extend, if necessary, the March 1 deadline he agreed to with his Chinese counterpart during their December 1 meeting in Buenos Aires.
US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer however, insisted later on Thursday that Washington was not willing to prolong the negotiations for now, and the White House confirmed in a statement that March 1 is “a fixed deadline”.
“Will we have an agreement? I don’t know,” he said.
Lighthizer and the US Secretary of the Treasury Steven Mnuchin will travel to China in February to continue the talks, which should culminate in the signing of an agreement between Trump and Xi.