Boeing CEO: China could buy US jets as part of trade deal

Boeing CEO: China could buy US jets as part of trade deal
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China could agree to purchase U.S.-made Boeing planes as part of a trade deal being negotiated by the two countries, according to the CEO of the aircraft manufacturer.

Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg told an aviation conference hosted by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in Washington that the deal that has been in the works for weeks presented "an economic opportunity" for the aviation industry, according to Reuters.

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“They are dealing with some of the tough framework issues around intellectual property and things like that,” Muilenburg reportedly said. “I do think they are making progress. And at the same time, I think there’s an economic opportunity here for airplanes to be part of the ultimate deal and help further close the trade deficit gap.”

The Trump administration and China have been in talks for weeks to finalize a trade agreement. U.S. trade officials hope the deal will address many of their long-standing issues with China, including accusations of technology theft. There are high stakes for the trade deal which comes as the two countries have exchanged retaliatory tariffs.

President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump watching 'very closely' as Portland braces for dueling protests WaPo calls Trump admin 'another threat' to endangered species Are Democrats turning Trump-like? MORE froze the deadline for a new wave of tariffs slated to take effect on March 1, citing progress in the trade talks. But tariffs implemented last year on some U.S. grain exports as well as imports of Chinese steel and other products remain in place.

Reuters reports that under a new agreement, Boeing expects Chinese jet sales to total $1.2 trillion over the next 20 years.

The move could be part of China's response to Trump's demands that the country help the U.S. reduce its trade deficit. On Wednesday, Commerce Department data revealed that the annual U.S. trade deficit reached a ten-year high of $621 billion in 2018, despite Trump's efforts. The U.S. trade deficit with China rose to $419 billion.

Trump has said he is optimistic about reaching a deal.

"I think we’re going to make a deal with China. But it’s going to be a very comprehensive deal. We’re going to cover everything," Trump told reporters in January.

"This isn’t going to be a small deal with China," the president added. "This is either going to be a very big deal or it’s going to be a deal that we’ll just postpone for a little while."