US, China reach limited trade deal ahead of tariff deadline

US, China reach limited trade deal ahead of tariff deadline
© Getty Images

The U.S. and China on Thursday reached a partial trade agreement that includes scrapping tariffs set to go into effect on Sunday, according to a source familiar with the matter.

Further specifics of the limited deal were not immediately clear, and it must still be signed by President TrumpDonald John TrumpCampaigns face attack ad dilemma amid coronavirus crisis Outgoing inspector general says Trump fired him for carrying out his 'legal obligations' Trump hits Illinois governor after criticism: 'I hear him complaining all the time' MORE and leaders in Beijing.

A statement from the White House was expected at some point Thursday evening, according to an official. The White House declined to comment.

ADVERTISEMENT

The agreement, which was first reported by Bloomberg News, comes just days before tariffs on roughly $160 billion on Chinese goods — including cellphones, video games and certain toys — were set to increase.

Trump originally delayed those tariffs in August, saying the tariffs would go into effect Dec. 15.

The president huddled Thursday afternoon to discuss the situation with China with some of his top trade advisers, including Larry KudlowLawrence (Larry) Alan KudlowMORE, Peter Navarro, Treasury Secretary Steven MnuchinSteven Terner MnuchinTens of thousands of travelers from China arrived in US as administration debated restrictions: report Pelosi, McConnell clash over next coronavirus bill Trump eyes additional funds for small businesses impacted by pandemic MORE and U.S. Trade Representative Robert LighthizerRobert (Bob) Emmet LighthizerGOP senator warns quick vote on new NAFTA would be 'huge mistake' Pelosi casts doubt on USMCA deal in 2019 Pelosi sounds hopeful on new NAFTA deal despite tensions with White House MORE.

The deal does not appear to address structural changes to Beijing’s economy that Trump’s White House has pushed for since the president first imposed tariffs more than a year ago, meaning the United States and China will continue negotiations in search of a broader agreement.

But even an initial deal with China would deliver a win for Trump on one of his marquee issues and would come just two days after Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiTop Federal Reserve official: Further coronavirus stimulus bill may not be needed Schumer: Fired inspector general will be remembered as a 'hero' Clyburn says stimulus spending oversight committee will be 'forward looking' MORE (D-Calif.) said the House would take up the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), another priority for the president.

ADVERTISEMENT

Earlier on Thursday, Trump teased the possibility of some kind of pact with China, tweeting, “Getting VERY close to a BIG DEAL with China. They want it, and so do we!”

Trump first told reporters on Oct. 11 that the U.S. and China had come to terms “in principle” on a phase one deal that addressed agricultural purchases and some intellectual property issues. He indicated at the time that the agreement would be finalized and signed in a matter of weeks.

But talks dragged on and the president increasingly indicated a formal agreement could wait until well into 2020.

“I have no deadline," Trump said at a NATO leaders’ meeting in London last week. "In some ways, I think it’s better to wait until after the election."