Trump says US-China trade talks ‘going very well’

21 February, 2019 12:00 AM printer

WASHINGTON: President Donald Trump said Tuesday that trade talks with China are complex but are “going very well” and again indicated the March 1 deadline for raising tariffs could be extended.

Officials on Tuesday resumed the high-stakes negotiations aimed at ending a damaging tariff war between the economic superpowers, reports AFP.

“I think the talks are going very well,” Trump said on the sidelines of an event at the White House. But he called the discussions “very complex.”

After the third round of talks ended Friday in Beijing with no deal, Trump suggested he could extend a March 1 truce deadline for an agreement to be reached.

If he does not extend the timeframe, the US is set to more than double punitive import tariffs on $200 billion in Chinese goods.

“I can’t tell you exactly about timing. The date is not a magical date because a lot of things are happening,” Trump told reporters. “We’ll see what happens.”

That comment cheered investors and sent US stock prices higher, boosting confidence that the sides will avoid worsening the conflict. Markets in London, Frankfurt and Tokyo also gained ground.

Senior officials were due to hold another round of talks on Thursday and Friday but deputy level meetings got underway Tuesday.

On Friday, Trump had reiterated he might be willing to hold off on increasing tariffs to 25 percent from the current 10 percent on March 1 on $200 billion in Chinese goods if Washington and Beijing were close to finalizing an agreement to deal with US allegations of unfair trade and theft of American technology.

American officials accuse Beijing of seeking global industrial dominance through an array of unfair trade practices, including the alleged theft of American intellectual property, and Washington has demanded a reduction in the US trade deficit with China.

The talks are aimed at “achieving needed structural changes in China that affect trade between the United States and China,” the White House said Monday.

Bloomberg reported Tuesday that the White House also is seeking a commitment from China to keep its currency from depreciating against the US dollar, which would counteract the impact of the tariffs.