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Trump: China trade talks going 'very well' before high-level parley


By Roberta and Ben Blanchard

WASHINGTON/(Reuters) - U.S. said on Wednesday trade talks with were "going along very well" as the world's two largest economies try to resolve their seven-month tariff war ahead of a March 1 deadline for a deal.

U.S. tariffs on $200 billion worth of imports from are scheduled to rise to 25 percent from 10 percent if the two sides don't reach a deal by then, increasing pain and costs in sectors from to agriculture.

Trump told reporters at the his administration has a "big team of people, very talented people, over in right now, negotiating on the China deal."

"It's going along very well. We'll see what happens, but I think it's going along very well. They're showing us tremendous respect," Trump added.

Trump's comments echoed those of Steven Mnuchin, who earlier told reporters in Beijing: "So far, so good," when asked about the progress of talks.

Mnuchin, along with U.S. (USTR) Robert Lighthizer, arrived in the Chinese capital on Tuesday for meetings with Liu He, the top to Chinese Xi Jinping, on Thursday and Friday. Deputy-level officials started talks on Monday.

The two U.S. cabinet officials will meet with Xi on Friday, the Morning Post reported, citing a source briefed on the arrangements. Representatives from the USTR's office and Treasury could not immediately be reached to comment on the report.

Trump met with Liu at the when a Chinese delegation came to for talks at the end of January.

The U.S. had said on Tuesday that the deadline for an agreement could "slide for a little while," but he preferred not to do so. Trump added he expects to meet with Xi to close the deal at some point.

Trump's advisers have described March 1 as a "hard deadline," but Trump told reporters a delay was possible.

Speaking to on Wednesday, Press said: "we'll see what happens on whether or not the president makes a move to change the deadline."

She also raised the possibility of a meeting between the leaders of the two countries, saying Trump's personal retreat at Mar-a-Lago in would make a good venue.

"It will ultimately take ... President Trump and President Xi sitting down face-to-face figuring that out and getting that final deal because they are the only two that'll ultimately be able to nail that down," Sanders said.

Trump has said he did not expect to meet with Xi prior to March 1.


said on Wednesday the two presidents were expected to meet "sometime in March," but no dates were set.

"Hopefully they are going to be meeting and will be able conclude a deal," Censky told a renewable fuels conference in Orlando, "Agriculture has to be part of it. It's a necessary part of the deal."

A growing number of U.S. businesses and lawmakers hope the tariff increase is delayed while the two sides tackle the difficult U.S. demands for major structural policy changes by China. They include ending the forced transfer of American trade secrets, curbing Beijing's industrial subsidies and enforcing intellectual property rights.

The latest round of talks in kicked off on Monday at the deputy level to work out technical details, including a mechanism for enforcing any trade agreement.

referred questions on the talks to the Ministry of Commerce, which did not respond to a request for comment.

James Green, a senior research fellow at Georgetown University, believes China is seeking a Xi-Trump meeting, hoping it would make a near-term deal on tariffs far more likely.

"From their point of view, they would have dodged a bullet," Green, who was USTR's top at the U.S. embassy in until mid-2018, told

(Reporting by Philip Wen, Ben and in Beijing; Robarta Rampton, David Lawder, Susan Heavey and Lisa Lambert in Washington; Chris Prentice and Jarrett Renshaw in New York; Editing by Clarence Fernandez, and Jeffrey Benkoe)

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Thu, February 14 2019. 01:35 IST