Trump says China wants a trade deal with US 'much more than I do'

Trump speaks to the media on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington.
Trump speaks to the media on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington.PHOTO: REUTERS

WASHINGTON (BLOOMBERG) - President Donald Trump said trade talks with China are moving along "very nicely," and said the leaders in Beijing wanted a deal "much more than I do."

Trump also described as "incorrect" reports about how much the US was ready to roll back tariffs on China.

"If we don't make that right deal, we're not going to make a deal," Trump told reporters on Saturday (Nov 8) as he prepared to board Air Force One for a trip to Alabama to watch a college football game. "A lot of positive things are happening."

On Thursday, signs were pointing toward a first-phase deal that would include a tariff rollback.

A spokesman for China's Ministry of Commerce said negotiators had discussions and "agreed to remove the additional tariffs in phases as progress is made on the agreement."

White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow also said on Thursday that "if there's a phase one trade deal, there are going to be tariff agreements and concessions."

Trump made clear Friday that the US has not yet reached an agreement and emphasised that he wouldn't eliminate all tariffs,muddying hopes raised by China and even some of his own aides that the US was ready to lift some tariffs to secure a trade deal.

There is an expectation that tariffs scheduled for Dec 15, which would hit popular consumer items like smartphones and toys, won't take effect as part of an initial deal.

But a lot of tariffs remain in place including 15 per cent on an additional US$110 billion (S$150 billion) in goods that took effect Sept 1.