BEIJING - The March 1 deadline for China and the United States to reach a trade deal would not be extended, said US trade delegation member David Malpass on Tuesday (Feb 12) in Beijing, a South China Morning Post report said.
He and other lower-level officials led by deputy trade representative Jeffrey Gerrish - their preparatory talks began on Monday ahead of Thursday and Friday's higher principal-level discussions led on the US side by Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin who will meet Chinese Vice-Premier Liu He - did not respond to other questions about the progress of the latest round of negotiations, the newspaper added.
The two sides are trying to negotiate a deal head of the March 1 deadline, failing which US tariffs on US$200 billion (S$272 billion) worth of Chinese imports will increase from 10 per cent to 25 per cent.
A Reuters report said that Mr Lighthizer, named by President Donald Trump to spearhead the process after agreeing a 90-day truce in the trade war with Beijing, has been a strong proponent of pushing China to end what the US views as unfair trade practices, including stealing intellectual property and forcing US companies to share their technology with Chinese firms. China has denied it engages in such practices.
The SCMP's report added that analysts have said it would be difficult for both sides to resolve their trade disputes by the designated date.
Other issues that will be discussed include the trade imbalance in China's favour, cyber theft, currency controls, market access and a enforcement mechanism for any agreements made, the SCMP report added.
Trump said last week that he does not expect to meet his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping before the deadline.
White House adviser Kellyanne Conway said Monday on Fox News that "he (Trump) wants to meet with President Xi very soon.
"This president wants a deal. He wants it to be fair to Americans and American workers and American interests."
SCMP reported on Monday that a preliminary proposal for the two leaders to meet on the southern Chinese island of Hainan around the time of the annual Boao Forum for Asia, which takes place from March 26 to 29, is being discussed. A venue or an exact date has not been confirmed, the report added, citing a source.
Other locations being considered for the meeting have included Trump's Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida, and Beijing, according to US news agency Axios.
The US president has said no deal will be final until he meets with his Chinese counterpart, a Bloomberg report said.