Washington : US President Donald Trump has delayed the March 1 deadline to increase American tariffs on Chinese goods and said that he would be planning a summit with his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping at his Florida resort to finalise a trade agreement.
“I am pleased to report that the US has made substantial progress in our trade talks with China on important structural issues including intellectual property protection, technology transfer, agriculture, services, currency, and many other issues,” Trump said on Sunday in a series of tweets.
“As a result of these very productive talks, I will be delaying the US increase in tariffs now scheduled for March 1. Assuming both sides make additional progress, we will be planning a summit for President Xi and myself, at Mar-a-Lago, to conclude an agreement. A very good weekend for US and China.”
The Trump administration had set March 1 as the deadline whereby a trade deal had to be reached in the US-China talks or else Washington would hike tariffs from 10 to 25 per cent on some $200 billion in yearly imports of Chinese goods.
The announcement comes as Trump prepares to meet North Korean leader Kim Jong-un for their second summit in Hanoi, Vietnam, on Wednesday and Thursday.
Earlier on Sunday, Trump tweeted about the important role China is playing ahead of the talks with Kim, saying: “President Xi of China has been very helpful in his support of my meeting with Kim Jong-un. The last thing China wants are large scale nuclear weapons right next door.
“Sanctions placed on the border by China and Russia have been very helpful. Great relationship with Chairman Kim.”
In the Oval Office on Friday, Trump expressed similar optimism about trade negotiations with China, predicting there was a “very good chance” that the US and China would reach a trade agreement.
Trump also suggested that if substantial progress was made, he “would be inclined” to allow up to a month longer for negotiations.
The President’s announcement followed days of negotiations in which American and Chinese officials met last week near the White House to work line-by-line through a handful of documents covering intellectual property, services and subsidies, The New York Times reported.
The Chinese were ready to commit to billions of dollars of purchases of American soybeans, beef, natural gas and other products, though they have resisted more structural changes to their economy.
An American delegation is expected to travel to Beijing soon to continue to work out the remaining differences.
The trade war between the world’s two biggest economies was sparked by Trump’s aggressive protectionist stance and has generated uncertainty and volatility in international financial markets for months.