Wednesday, 20 February, 2019

No meeting with China's Xi before tariff deadline

Xi Jinping and Donald Trump last met at a G20 summit in Buenos Aires Xi Jinping and Donald Trump last met at a G20 summit in Buenos Aires
Jeannette Daniel | 10 February, 2019, 11:08

The dispute has escalated to encompass $360 billion in trade between the two economic superpowers, and without an agreement by the start of March, the Trump administration is poised to more than double the punitive duties on $200 billion in Chinese goods.

"At some point the two presidents will meet, that is what Mr. Trump has been saying". Officials have reported little progress on contentious issues but remain hopeful that a deal will be struck.

Trump said last week he did not think he would need to extend the March 1 deadline, adding that he believes "every point will be agreed to" when he meets Xi.

Speaking to Fox Business on Thursday, White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow said the administration is hoping for a trade agreement with China, but, "We've got a pretty sizable distance to go".

There had been speculation that Trump might meet the Chinese leader after he flies to Vietnam in late February for a summit with North Korea's Kim Jong Un. The deadline is rapidly approaching with no plans in place for the two presidents to meet. "We need an agreement at the end of the 90-day period that specifically rescinds the tariff that China has imposed on USA soybean imports".

The S&P 500 Index closed down 0.93 percent in its biggest drop in two weeks.

Mnuchin and US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer are scheduled to travel to China next week to continue for the third round of trade negotiations.

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Addressing reporters at the White House, Trump answered in the negative when asked if a meeting could happen by March 1. U.S. Treasury bond yields also dropped following the move of investors in securing their safety in sovereign U.S. debt. "They're making a mistake because they need to be prepared", he said.

Washington complaints about technology transfers and intellectual property protections, along with accusations of Chinese cybertheft of U.S. trade secrets and a systematic campaign to acquire U.S. technology firms, were used by Trump's administration to justify punitive tariffs on $250bn worth of Chinese imports. Trump has threatened to raise tariffs from their current 10 percent level to 25 percent at the deadline.

"If we do make headway, and the president thinks we're close enough that he can close the deal on major issues, then I think he'll want to have a meeting and do that", he told reporters.

But Reuters later cited three anonymous sources who indicated the CNBC report was incorrect.

In his State of the Union address on Tuesday, Trump said a trade deal needed to include "real structural change to end unfair trade practices, reduce our trade deficit and protect American jobs". "It's encouraging that the administration is keeping soybeans in their trade conversations with China", says Davie Stephens, ASA President.

A study released Wednesday by Tariffs Hurt the Heartland, a campaign opposed to tariffs, said an increase to 25% would reduce employment by 934,000 jobs and GDP by 0.37%.

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