China hail trade-talks progress as Trump touts Xi meeting

Ann Santiago
February 1, 2019

President Donald Trump is voicing optimism before he meets with representatives from China for trade talks Thursday.

It's almost crunch time for United States and Chinese negotiators hoping to avoid a big escalation in the trade war, and it now appears that President Trump and Xi Jinping will meet face-to-face just before a crucial deadline.

Mr. Trump is scheduled to meet with China's top trade negotiators at the White House later Thursday, wrapping up the latest round of talks aimed at resolving the trade war that has roiled financial markets.

Trump, in subsequent tweets, said no deal would be reached until he meets with Chinese President Xi Jinping and noted that he still plans to increase tariffs on China if no deal is reached by March.

But the likelihood of reaching a deal before the March 1 deadline set by Trump for the imposition of higher tariffs on Chinese imports is slim.

Trump, meanwhile, has seen his public approval ratings battered by the partial government shutdown and is said to worry about the tariff war's impact upon USA financial markets.

Trump was meeting on Thursday afternoon with the Chinese negotiators.

Chinese officials have said their policies do not coerce technology transfers.

Even as he has regularly promoted the president as a free trader who wants no tariffs, President Trump has repeatedly said he'd be fine with leaving the ones he enacted a year ago in place.

Trump has threatened to raise tariffs on $200 billion to 25 percent from 10 percent on March 2 if an agreement can not be reached.

Chinese officials did not bring any major new proposals to the table for this week's talks other than an invitation for Trump to meet with Xi in February after the US president's meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, according to one person familiar with the state of negotiations.

Lighthizer said there was "substantial progress" on these issues, including verification mechanisms to "enforce" China's follow-through on any reform commitments it made.

US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, one of the Trump administration's strongest advocates for a deal with China, made upbeat comments about the talks for a second day in a row on Tuesday, saying on Fox Business Network that he expects "significant progress" on market access and technology transfer issues.

A Chinese delegation is in Washington this week to discuss the broad strokes of an agreement to end the trade war the two countries have fighting for almost a year.

Mr Trump has also threatened tariffs on an additional $267bn worth of products.

"I'd like to accommodate China if we can get the deal done", Trump said.

"The odds of them stonewalling and rope-a-doping in this meeting are close to zero", said Robert Atkinson, president of the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation think-tank.

Trump said he did not think he would need to extend the deadline.

US President Donald Trump touted the promise, made at the end of two days of talks in Washington, as evidence that the two sides were making progress.

According to state news agency Xinhua, the Chinese delegation agreed to "vigorously expand" imports of USA agricultural products, energy products, industrial manufactured goods, and service products.

President Donald Trump on Thursday insisted any new agreement on trade with China would have to be comprehensive and warned that a sweeping increase in United States tariffs could take place in a month if there is no agreement.

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