Trump says no discussion of extending deadline in Chinese trade talks

Trump says no discussion of extending deadline in Chinese trade talks
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President TrumpDonald John TrumpJoint Chiefs chairman denies report that US is planning to keep 1K troops in Syria Kansas Department of Transportation calls Trump 'delusional communist' on Twitter Trump has privately voiced skepticism about driverless cars: report MORE said Thursday there’s been no talk of extending a March deadline to reach an agreement with China to avoid imposing increased tariffs on Chinese goods.

However, the president expressed optimism about the chances of reaching a satisfactory deal following talks with a top Beijing representative at the White House.

“I don’t think we have to extend it," Trump said of the March 1 deadline while speaking to reporters in the Oval Office during a meeting with Chinese Vice Premier Liu He.

"Now, at a certain point… it’s the largest transaction ever made, to be perfectly straight. We have to get this put on paper at some point if we agree. There are some points that we don’t agree to yet but I think we will agree," he continued.

“I think when [Chinese President] Xi and myself meet, every point will be agreed to."

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U.S. Trade Representative Bob LighthizerRobert (Bob) Emmet LighthizerTrump says no discussion of extending deadline in Chinese trade talks McConnell urges GOP senators to call Trump about tariffs Companies brace for trade war MORE said that he and Treasury Secretary Steven MnuchinSteven Terner MnuchinOn The Money: Trump issues first veto, warning of 'reckless' resolution | US hits Russia with new sanctions | Dems renew push for contractor back pay | Lawmakers seek probe into undocumented workers at Trump businesses Deripaska sues Trump admin over Russia sanctions US announces new Russia sanctions with Canada, EU MORE will travel to China for talks “shortly.” Lighthizer said he anticipates a brief pause in negotiations to observe the Chinese New Year, but said the two sides will be “more or less in continuous” contact. 

The vice premier said Beijing has agreed to purchase 5 million tons of soybeans from the U.S., a move Trump praised as a good-faith effort.

Despite the warm tone and talk of momentum, the two sides acknowledged that there was a long way to go before a final deal could be struck.

Negotiators have just four weeks left until the U.S. has said it will increase its tariffs on Chinese imports from 10 percent to 25 percent.

The White House has laid out a litany of issues to be addressed in any final pact, including trade disparities, the enforcement of intellectual property rights and the need to police fentanyl shipments.

"I think we made progress," Lighthizer said Thursday. "We have much work to do if we’re going to have an agreement, but we made substantial progress."

Chinese President Xi Jinping told Trump in a letter read aloud on Thursday that he hoped the two countries could meet halfway on a deal.

Trump indicated he would need to meet with Xi to discuss the deal before the two gave final approval to any arrangement.

Further complicating matters could be the proceedings involving Chinese telecom giant Huawei.

The U.S. has formally requested the extradition of an executive at the firm who has been accused of violating trade sanctions against Iran. Chinese officials have protested the arrest.

Trump said Thursday that Huawei has not yet come up in trade discussions, and officials have stressed that the issues are separate.

"That, actually, as big as it might seem is very small compared to the overall deal, but that’ll be discussed," the president said.

Trump has long touted his personal relationship with Xi, though it has been strained in recent months amid the countries' escalating trade dispute.

The Trump administration imposed billions of dollars in tariffs on Chinese imports last year, prompting Beijing to respond with retaliatory measures on U.S. goods. The two sides have engaged in tit-for-tat actions ever since.

Trump and Xi agreed during the Group of 20 (G-20) summit late last year to a truce that would prevent tariffs on Chinese goods from increasing from 10 percent to 25 percent until March 1, giving the two sides room for negotiations.

The president earlier Thursday was noncommittal on whether the two sides could meet the March 1 deadline.

"I think we can do it by March 1," he said. "Can you get it down on paper by March 1? I don’t know."