US President Donald Trump says the United States and China were closer to a trade agreement, but warned Beijing that he would not allow trade to continue without a “great deal.”
According to Press TV, speaking to reporters at the White House on Thursday at the start of a meeting with Chinese Vice Premier Liu He, Trump said some of the tougher points of a deal had been agreed but there were still differences to be resolved.
“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,” Trump said in the Oval Office.
“And I would think with, oh, within the next four weeks or maybe less, maybe more, whatever it takes, something very monumental could be announced.”
Trump reiterated however that, “if it’s not a great deal, we’re not doing it.”
The two largest economies in the world are engaged in intense negotiations to end a months-long trade war that has rattled global markets, but hopes of a resolution soared after both sides expressed optimism following talks in Beijing last week.
The current round of trade talks is scheduled to go through Friday and possibly longer.
US and Chinese officials have offered mixed messages for months about their trade talks, but the last mile is proving to be the hardest, with the two sides reportedly tussling over whether and when Washington should remove the punishing tariffs it imposed last year on Chinese goods.
US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer told reporters at the White House that “major issues” were left to be resolved.
Lighthizer, one of the administration’s most ardent hard-liners on China, has said US tariffs offer crucial leverage should Beijing backslide on its commitments.
Trump in early 2018 launched a trade war with China, seeking to slash that country’s soaring trade surplus with the United States, end alleged unfair trade practices such as the theft of American technology and China’s massive state intervention in markets.
Washington and Beijing since last year have imposed tariffs on more than $360 billion in two-way trade.
Trump has previously threatened that if a trade deal is not reached, he would impose punitive tariffs on all imports from China, which was worth $540 billion in 2018.
China has floated offers to make sizable purchases of US commodities and taken steps to show it will protect foreign intellectual property.
But lawmakers and trade experts in the US have warned of the temptation to accept a superficial deal that does not force profound changes to the Chinese industrial policies American officials have long denounced.