Trump, Xi won't meet before March 1 trade deadline

President TrumpDonald John TrumpDavid Axelrod after Ginsburg cancer treatment: Supreme Court vacancy could 'tear this country apart' EU says it will 'respond in kind' if US slaps tariffs on France Ginsburg again leaves Supreme Court with an uncertain future MORE said Thursday he has no plans to meet with Chinese President Xi Jinping before a self-imposed March 1 deadline for the two countries to reach a trade agreement.

ADVERTISEMENT

Trump was also noncommittal when asked if there would be a meeting in the next month or so, saying “not yet, maybe.”

“Probably too soon. Probably too soon,” he said of a meeting in that timeframe.

The comments came after White House officials said the two sides remained far apart on key trade disputes, stoking fears about the potential for U.S.-China trade tensions to flare once again.

Stock markets plunged on the news. The Dow Jones Industrial Average finished the day down more than 220 points and the S&P 500 Index fell almost 1 percent.

The U.S. and China reached a temporary trade truce in December, with the Trump administration agreeing to hold off on raising tariffs on billions of dollars in Chinese imports from 10 percent to 25 percent while both sides negotiated a broader agreement.

Trump has said he would need to meet with Xi to finalize any agreement. It’s not clear if the U.S. would agree to extend the deadline if a deal is not reached by March 1.

A group of senior officials from both governments met in Washington last week to discuss irritants in the trade relationship, such as alleged intellectual property theft and forced technology transfers.

Talks are expected to continue next week in China, with U.S. Trade Representative Robert LighthizerRobert (Bob) Emmet LighthizerOn The Money: Economy adds 164K jobs in July | Trump signs two-year budget deal, but border showdown looms | US, EU strike deal on beef exports Chinese, US negotiators fine-tuning details of trade agreement: report The Trump economy keeps roaring ahead MORE and Treasury Secretary Steven MnuchinSteven Terner MnuchinThe Hill's Morning Report: How will Trump be received at G-7? White House won't move forward with billions in foreign aid cuts Trump says he'll decide on foreign aid cuts within a week MORE leading the American delegation.

Top White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow said Thursday that last week’s negotiations had a “good vibe to them” and officials “covered a tremendous amount of ground and all the major issues” while acknowledging any deal is far from finished.

“We've got a pretty sizable distance to go here,” he said on Fox Business Network.