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US President Donald Trump says could extend China trade talks deadline

13 February 2019, 07:13 | Joann Bryant

US President Donald Trump says could extend China trade talks deadline

US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin will lead the delegation

USA president Donald Trump said last week he did not plan to meet with Xi before the March 1 deadline, dampening hopes that a trade pact could be reached quickly.

As a result, some aides privately acknowledge the most likely scenario is for the March 1 deadline to be extended, and for tariffs on some $200 billion in Chinese imports not to be raised to 25 percent as Trump has threatened.

"I could see myself letting that slide for a little while", Trump of the March 2 deadline.

Mid-level officials began discussions Monday in preparation for two days of talks starting Thursday involving U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Chinese Vice Premier Liu He.




"But at some point, I expect to meet with President Xi, who I have a lot of respect for and like a lot, and make the parts of the deal that the group is unable to make", Trump said.

US tariffs on $200 billion worth of imports from China are scheduled to rise to 25 percent from 10 percent if the two sides can not reach a deal by the deadline, increasing pain and costs in sectors from consumer electronics to agriculture. Trump had said final resolution of the trade dispute would depend on the meeting with Xi "in the near future" but told reporters it had not yet been arranged. China will likely respond by raising tariffs on $60 billion worth of United States goods that it announced past year in retaliation. But the two sides are only just starting the work of drafting a common document and are still tussling over how a deal may be enforced, which US officials have repeatedly called a crucial element.

A new round of trade talks between the US and China begins in Beijing this week, with both sides hoping to reach a trade deal by the end of this month. Beijing officials have yet to offer satisfying proposals on U.S. demands. Washington is demanding far-reaching changes from China to address unfair practices it says are deeply unfair, including theft of American intellectual property and the massive Chinese trade surplus.



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