US, China may reach trade deal within a month: Trump

US President Donald Trump says a trade deal with China was getting close and a deal could be reached in about four weeks, in a meeting with Chinese Vice Premier Liu He.
United States President Donald Trump meeting Chinese Vice-Premier Liu He at the Oval Office of the White House in Washington on Thursday. Mr Trump said a deal-signing summit could be announced in four weeks, and the paperwork drawn up within two week
United States President Donald Trump meeting Chinese Vice-Premier Liu He at the Oval Office of the White House in Washington on Thursday. Mr Trump said a deal-signing summit could be announced in four weeks, and the paperwork drawn up within two weeks after that. PHOTO: REUTERS

He says some of the toughest points in the negotiations have been settled, while Xi calls for quick end to the talks

The United States and China are nearing an agreement to end their trade war and could reach one in four weeks, said President Donald Trump, as Chinese President Xi Jinping urged a quick end to the negotiations.

"We are rounding the turn," Mr Trump said at a meeting on Thursday with Chinese Vice-Premier Liu He, who is in Washington this week for the latest round of trade talks.

"We have a ways to go, but not very far."

The Chinese President urged a quick end to the trade talks, in a message conveyed by Mr Liu.

"Under the current situation, the healthy and stable development of China-US relations is related to the interests of both Chinese and American people," Mr Liu said on behalf of Mr Xi, according to state news agency Xinhua.

While Mr Trump stopped short of announcing a time and place for an anticipated deal-signing summit between himself and Mr Xi, he said one could be announced in four weeks, and the paperwork drawn up within two weeks after that.

He added that some of the tou-ghest points in the negotiations had been settled, and called the trade deal in the works "the granddaddy of them all", in contrast to more cautious remarks from top trade officials.

 

Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer said: "There are still some major, major issues left, but we are certainly making more progress than we would have thought when we started."

White House trade adviser Peter Navarro added: "The last mile of a marathon is actually the longest and the hardest. So, we hope for the best, but we will see what happens."

Mr Liu said that "great progress" had been made on the talks due to Mr Trump's direct involvement.

NOT FAR TO GO

We are rounding the turn. We have a ways to go, but not very far.

US PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP, at a meeting with Chinese Vice-Premier Liu He.

The US President said tariffs are still being discussed, but did not go into details.

The Wall Street Journal, however, reported earlier in the week that tariffs had emerged as a key sticking point because Washington wants to keep its punitive tariffs on US$250 billion (S$339 billion) worth of Chinese goods in place until it sees signs of true reform, while Beijing wants them lifted immediately.

The US also wants to be able to re-impose tariffs if China reneges on its promises, but Beijing views this as infringing on its sovereignty.

Another sticking point is China's lengthy approval process for new strains of American genetically modified crops, which throttles the sales of these products and restricts what American farmers can plant to sell, reported Reuters.

The trade war has threatened global growth, but at stake is also the future of the economic relationship between the world's two largest economies.

Washington is seeking an end to rules and practices that disadvantage American companies in China, such as forced technology transfers and intellectual property theft.

 
 

It also accuses China of not playing by the rules of global trade in supporting state-owned enterprises and subsidising companies in key sectors.

Still, Mr Trump praised the strength of the US-China relationship on Thursday, saying: "We have agreed to far more than we have left to agree to."

The broad outline of the trade agreement - currently spanning more than 120 pages - emerged this week in media reports citing official sources.

The Chinese will have until 2025 to carry out their promised purchases of soya beans and other American products, and American companies will also be allowed to wholly own enterprises in China, reported Bloomberg.

Mr Trump had been poised to announce a summit date on Thursday, but media reports on this had provoked a backlash among his advisers, who were worried that locking in a date would tie their hands in negotiations, according to The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal.

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 06, 2019, with the headline 'US, China may reach trade deal within a month: Trump'. Print Edition | Subscribe