US, China close to striking a ‘monumental’ trade deal: Trump

WASHINGTON/BEIJING: The US and China are close to striking a “monumental” trade deal in the next four weeks, President Donald Trump has said, a view concurred by his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping, generating optimism that the bruising trade war between the world’s two largest economies may end soon.

Trump’s positive comments came as top Chinese and US officials are meeting in Washington to reach an agreement after the two trading powers entered into a trade war and imposed tariffs on more than USD 360 billion in two-way trade.

Trump has been accusing China of indulging in unfair trade practices, like the theft of US technology and massive state intervention in markets, contributing to the huge trade deficit amounting to USD 375 billion.

Trump is demanding China to reduce the USD 375 billion trade deficit and protection of Intellectual Property Rights (IPR), technology transfer and more access to American goods to Chinese markets.

Last week, negotiators from both the countries met in Beijing to resolve the nine month-long trade war.

“The deal is coming along really well. We’ll probably know over the next four weeks. It may take two weeks after that to get it papered, but I really think that, over the next fairly short period of time, we’re going to know,” Trump told reporters in the Oval Office of the White House during his meeting with the visiting Chinese Vice Premier Liu He.

“It’s looking very good. A lot of really good things have been negotiated and agreed to. I would really say, and I say it again, a lot of the most difficult points that we didn’t think we could ever do or we wouldn’t agree to, on both sides have been agreed to,” he said.

The two sides, he said, have negotiated some of the toughest points, but there are still some ways to go. “I think we have a very good chance of getting there”.

Responding to a question if he was looking forward to meet Chinese President Xi, Trump said the summit would take place only if the trade deal is finalised.

“I look forward to seeing President Xi. It will be here. If we have a deal, then we’re going to have a summit. If we don’t have a deal, we’re not going to have a summit. But there’s a very good chance that we’ll have the summit,” Trump said.

When asked what is coming in the way of the deal, he said “It is enforcement. We have to make sure there’s enforcement. I think we’ll get that done. We’ve discussed it at length. I think we’re going to get that done”.

“We’re getting very close to making a deal. That doesn’t mean a deal is made, because it’s not, but we’re certainly getting a lot closer. I would think within the next four weeks or maybe less, maybe more — whatever it takes — something very monumental could be announced,” the US President said.

Chinese Vice Premier Liu said that the two countries have made great progress. “I do think that because we got direct guidance by two great President Xi and President Trump,” he said.

In Beijing, President Xi said on Friday said that “new substantial progress” has been made on the China-US economic agreement.

Xi’s remarks were part of a message conveyed to US President Trump at the White House by Vice Premier Liu.

The Chinese President said that “new substantial progress” has been made on the text of the China-US economic and trade agreement in the past more than one month.

He encouraged the two sides to keep up with the spirit of mutual respect, equality and mutual benefit, and resolve issues of mutual concern so as to conclude the negotiations on the agreement text as soon as possible.

Under the current situation, a healthy and stable development of China-US relations concerns the interests of both Chinese and American people, as well as the interests of people of other countries around the world, and it needs, in particular, their strategic leadership, Xi told Trump, state-run Xinhua news agency reported.

Xi also said that he is ready to keep close contact with Trump through various means, and believes that the China-US relations will make new and greater progress under their joint guidance.

Separately, Chinese commerce ministry spokesperson Gao Feng announced reciprocal suspension of additional tariffs slapped by both the countries on each other’s goods since last year, saying the move would “undoubtedly” create a conducive atmosphere for the China-US economic and trade negotiations.

China’s Cabinet said last Sunday that Beijing would continue to suspend additional tariffs on US vehicles and auto parts after March 31, in a goodwill gesture following a US decision to delay tariff hikes on Chinese imports.

China said in December it would suspend additional 25 per cent tariffs on US made vehicles and auto parts for three months, following a truce in the trade dispute between the world’s two largest economies.

Meanwhile, Senate Finance Committee Ranking Member Ron Wyden in a statement asked for a strong trade deal with China.

“We’ve had nearly two decades of broken promises from China. Any deal that fails to address the core trade cheating by China – theft of intellectual property, forced tech transfer and state-owned enterprises – will be a loser for American workers.

Trump must not settle for a short-term political deal that doesn’t include real, enforceable ways to hold China accountable for its promises, he demanded. PTI

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