By Jon Dougherty
Trade talks between U.S. and Chinese negotiators were extended for two days on Friday as both sides agreed to “speed up” talks in a bid to finalized an agreement ahead of a March 1 deadline when Washington planned to impose higher tariffs on some $200 billion worth of imported goods from China.
Chinese Vice-Premier Liu He said Beijing and Washington would â€œredouble efforts and speed up negotiationsâ€ on trade, as talks aiming to end a tariff war between the two biggest economies will continue for at least another 48 hours.
As President Xi Jinpingâ€™s special envoy, Liu is leading Chinaâ€™s latest trade negotiations in Washington, the South China Morning Post reported.Â He said both sides had made â€œpositive progressâ€ over the previous two days in a number of areas including the ongoing trade imbalance, agriculture, forced technology transfers, intellectual property protection, and financial services. He added that a deal is â€œvery likelyâ€.
â€œIn the next step, the two sides will redouble efforts and speed up negotiations to accomplish the great missions assigned by the two leaders,â€ Liu said, according to state news agency Xinhua on Saturday.
The SCMP noted:
Liu made the remarks during a meeting with US President Donald Trump and his top advisers in the Oval Office on Friday, when Trump suggested that he would meet Xi to push for a final deal next month at Mar-a-Lago, his resort in Palm Beach, Florida where the two leaders had their first face-to-face meeting about two years ago.
â€œUltimately, I think the biggest decisions and some even smaller decisions will be made by President Xi and myself,â€ Trump told reporters in the Oval Office. â€œWe expect to have a meeting some point in the not-too-distant future â€¦ And I think President Xi and I will work out the final points. Perhaps and perhaps not.â€
Talks were supposed to wrap up on Friday but negotiators agreed to an extension, leading most analysts hopeful that at least some progress was being made.Â Lu Xiang, a China-US specialist with the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said it’s possible that negotiators just needed more time to finalize key parts of an agreement, but added the U.S. could make a push for some last-minute concessions as well.
â€œThe US should be clear where Chinaâ€™s bottom line is after so many rounds of negotiations,â€ Lu said. â€œThe fact is that without Chinaâ€™s state companies, it would be unlikely that the two sides could achieve balanced trade because most Chinese purchases of US goods are made by state-owned enterprises at the governmentâ€™s order.â€
As part of reaching a deal, China is expected to up its purchase of U.S.-made goods, spending upwards of $1.2 trillion. CNBC confirmed through sources the spending commitment but added that U.S. and Chinese negotiators were still far apart on terms the forced transfer of intellectual property.
That makes sense given that China’s economy is largely premised on ‘acquiring’ technology either by forced transfer or cyber-theft rather than developing it domestically because it’s cheaper.
Meanwhile,Â CNBC noted that another face-to-face meeting between POTUS Donald Trump and President Xi Jinping was in the offing:
The United States and China are discussing a late March meeting between PresidentÂ Donald TrumpÂ and Chinese PresidentÂ Xi Jinping in Florida, according to sources familiar with the situation.Â
The summit would be at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago golf club in Palm Beach, Florida.
Any meeting between Trump and Xi in March would follow their dinner in Argentina in December and come amid a prolonged tit-for-tat trade dispute between the world’s two largest economies. Both nations have slapped tariffs on hundreds of billions of dollars of goods, adding to global economic growth fears as well as worries about ripple effects in key supply chains and manufacturing.
U.S. duties on $200 billion in imports from China are set to rise to 25 percent from 10 percent if Washington and Beijing fail to reach an agreement by a March 2 deadline. However, Trump said earlier this week that the deadline was not a “magical date,” hinting it could be moved.