Published: Wed, February 13, 2019
Business | By Eloise Houston

Trump says he may let China trade deal deadline slip

Trump says he may let China trade deal deadline slip

U.S. trade representative Robert Lighthizer and treasury secretary Steven Mnuchin are scheduled to hold talks on Thursday and Friday with Chinese vice premier Liu He, top economic adviser to president Xi Jinping.

U.S. President Donald Trump said on Tuesday that he could let the deadline for a trade agreement "slide for a little while", but that he would prefer not to and expects to meet with Chinese President Xi Jinping to close the deal at some point.

The latest round of talks in Beijing kicked off on Monday with discussions among deputy-level officials to try to work out technical details, including a mechanism for enforcing any trade agreement.

Investors will be looking to see if both sides can hammer out a deal before a March 1st deadline to avert higher US tariffs on Chinese goods.

Mnuchin appeared at a Beijing hotel a couple of days ahead of scheduled high-level meetings with Chinese officials in the capital, with a March 1 deadline looming to strike an accord.

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. 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.

Treasury's Mnuchin and U.S. trade representative, Robert Lighthizer, would be participating in the high level trade talk in Beijing, which would unlikely to bear fruit, since all the China had been doing after the trade truce, was talking about purchasing more USA goods, evading the IP rights talks, which United States claimed "not enough" for getting a trade deal done last week.

Washington is expected to keep pressing Beijing on long-standing demands that it make sweeping structural reforms to protect American companies' intellectual property, or IP, end policies aimed at forcing the transfer of technology to Chinese companies, and curb industrial subsidies. Beijing officials have yet to offer satisfying proposals on USA demands.

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