Trump team has no plan to go to China for trade talks

Jeannie Matthews
March 11, 2019

Chinese President Xi Jinping with his U.S. counterpart Donald Trump.

USA and Chinese officials have said they are making progress toward a resolution of the dispute but a U.S. diplomat in Beijing said Friday that an agreement was not imminent.

Optimism about a rapid resolution of the months-long US-China trade war was undercut by conflicting comments out of Washington and Beijing, sending global stock markets on a downward slide on Friday.

Trump postponed a sharp USA tariff hike slated for early March as the talks progressed, but both Washington and Beijing have kept previous duties in place. China has made the same commitment in other multilateral agreements, as well, The Wall Street Journal reports.

Trump has pushed his negotiators to rapidly complete a deal with China out of concern that he needs a significant win on the worldwide stage to juice stock markets ahead of his 2020 re-election campaign, according to people familiar with the matter.

He added that state enterprises were "very concerned" with trade negotiations and hoping for a positive outcome leading to a "good environment for business development".

But there have been conflicting comments from Washington and Beijing on the negotiations.

Giving rare details into the talks, Wang said the two countries had been making extra effort to find areas in common.

"China is set to have a hard time on trade, because on the US front there is the trade war, and on the European Union front the economy is really weakening", said Tommy Xie, an economist at Oversea-Chinese Banking Singapore.

"Vice Premier Liu had a hamburger, and Lighthizer had eggplant and chicken", he added, describing a common Chinese dish.

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"Throughout the consultation process, there was coffee and tea. but both drank plain water". They both drank boiled water.

And weak U.S. employment data added to the pessimism, causing Wall Street to dive at the open, and although it recovered some ground by the end of session, all three main indices closed lower for the fifth consecutive day.

A decline in imports indicates domestic demand is weakening.

"To decouple from China is to decouple from opportunities, decouple from the future, and in a sense, to decouple from the world", Wang said at a news conference in Beijing.

When asked about subsidies for China's state companies, which are believed to be one of Washington's key concerns, another Chinese official denied they existed at all.

"Therefore, China is now cleaning up and standardizing various subsidies", Xiao told reporters on the sidelines of the annual meeting of parliament.

Top White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow told CNBC Friday that President Donald Trump and Chinese leader Xi Jinping could meet on trade later this month or early next month.

But without a firm agreement in place for the two leaders to sign, Xi has balked at the prospect of traveling almost 8,000 miles without a guarantee Trump won't leave the table, according to the people familiar with the talks.

A second source, also familiar with the situation, said China thought it was getting close to a deal but now realized that won't be so easy to achieve.

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