US President Donald Trump said on Tuesday that he would consider extending the period for a trade deal with China beyond 1 March.
Chinese and US officials will hold high-level talks this week aimed at halting their damaging trade war. US officials earlier considered 1 March as a difficult deadline for achieving a deal to avert further tariffs.
“If we consider having a deal, where we think we can make a deal, I could probably see myself letting that slide for a little while, but generally speaking, I’m not inclined to do that,” said Trump.
The comments came forward as the third round of trade negotiations were already set to begin in Beijing to forestall more than doubling tariffs on $200 billion in Chinese imports. Both the countries have imposed duties on billions of dollars’ worth of one another’s goods.
The high-stakes dispute has raised concerns, which could drastically spill over, affecting the global economy after Trump hit China with over 25% punitive tariffs on $50 billion in goods, and 10% duties on another $200 billion in annual imports last year.
Deputy-level talks began this week in Beijing. Confidential discussions, led by US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Chinese Vice Premier Liu He, are due to start on Thursday as both sides rush to make progress before the 1 March deadline.
Ohio Republican, Senator Rob Portman said he discussed the US-China talks with US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer last week, comes with a thought that the discussions were “constructive and serious.”
US stocks rallied on Mr. Trump’s trade comments, along with a tentative congressional spending deal aimed at avoiding another government shutdown. All three major indexes posted their most significant gains for the month, including Dow Jones Industrial Average reviving a four-day losing streak to rise 1.5 percent significantly.
A growing number of US businesses and lawmakers have opened up their hopes for a delay, while the two sides rattle the difficult US demands for significant “structural” policy change. However, China aimed at ending the forced transfer of American trade secrets, curbing Beijing’s industrial subsidies and enforcing intellectual property rights.
The economy of China has already shown signs of slowing, whereas the trade war has rattled the confidence of US businesses, as retaliatory tariffs have raised the prices and helped break off a key export market.
The US has already imposed tariffs on $250bn worth of Chinese goods, and China has retaliated by imposing duties on $110bn of US products. But Trump’s combative strategy has drastically failed to produce a reduction in the US trade deficit with China, which he had set as a primary goal. The rate on all those imports is set to increase to 25% if no agreement is reached by 1 March.
Economists say much of the intended effect of the duties in reducing imports has been offset by the devaluation of China’s currency, which makes goods cheaper for importers.