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Trump trade chief to face lawmakers ahead of crucial China deadline
The Trump administration's top trade negotiator is set to face questions from House lawmakers two days before a crucial deadline to strike a deal with China.
U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer will appear before the House Ways and Means Committee on Feb. 27 for a hearing on trade talks between the White House and Beijing, the panel announced Wednesday.
Lighthizer is expected to face a slew of questions from lawmakers from both parties who have voiced concerns as the Trump administration and Chinese government scramble to meet a March 1 deadline to reach a long-term trade deal.
President Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping agreed in December to hold off on increasing or applying new tariffs on imports until March 1.
Last year, Trump imposed tariffs of 10 percent on $200 billion worth of Chinese goods imported to the U.S. and Beijing has responded with reciprocal levies on U.S. products.
Trump said he would increase those tariffs to 25 percent if China does not agree to reduce non-tariff trade barriers, halt the theft of U.S. intellectual property and expand foreign access to Chinese financial markets.
The White House is also pushing Beijing to import greater quantities of U.S. agricultural exports, which China has targeted with tariffs.
Lawmakers have grown increasingly worried about the domestic impact of Trump's trade battle with China, with U.S. farmers and ranchers losing access to crucial Chinese markets for their crops and livestock while also being harmed by tariffs imposed by China, Mexico, Canada the European Union.
Still, there is bipartisan support for tackling Beijing's hostile policies, which the Trump administration has sought to do amid the prolonged trade battle.
China's economy has also faltered since amid the trade war. The country has suffered through slower growth, falling industrial production and waning demand in emerging markets.
Trump and his top economic officials have expressed optimism throughout their talks with China. The president and his team have touted slow, but steady progress and Trump said he's willing to delay the March 1 deadline if the nations are close to a deal.