Published: Fri, April 05, 2019
Worldwide | By Angelina Lucas

Trump says US-China trade deal may be reached in 4 weeks

Trump says US-China trade deal may be reached in 4 weeks

"He said, "But I am not king, I am president.' I said 'No, you're president for life, and therefore you're king", Trump told his audience, prompting laughter. Three days later, he predicted that he would sign a deal "fairly soon".

Speaking to reporters at the White House 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 bridged.

Under the proposed agreement, China would commit by 2025 to buy more U.S. commodities, including soya beans and energy products, and allow 100 per cent foreign ownership for USA companies operating in China as a binding pledge that can trigger retaliation from the United States if left unfulfilled, the people said on condition of anonymity because the talks are private.

Michael Pillsbury, a China expert at the Hudson Institute, said the emerging accord would not erase all of the irritants in the US-China relationship.

Goods trade between the United States and China, the world's two largest economies, totaled $660 billion a year ago, according to US Census Bureau data, consisting of imports of $540 billion from China and $120 billion in exports to China.

Trump said the American economy, which reached $20.5 trillion last year, is "looking very strong", despite what he said were "unnecessary and destructive actions" taken last year by policy makers at the country's central bank, the Federal Reserve, to raise benchmark interest rates to inhibit too-rapid growth.

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China is pushing for the tariffs to be removed before it will agree to lift its retaliatory tariffs on US farm products and industrial goods including autos. The president has spoken of keeping at least some tariffs in place as leverage to encourage the Chinese government to comply with an eventual agreement. A pair of recent academic studies concluded that the entire tariff burden has fallen on Americans. He later said that an enforcement plan for a deal remained a sticking point as well.

More discussion between the two countries are due to kick off on April 3, with China's lead negotiator to arrive in Washington.

While both sides have praised the potential benefits of a deal, critics have raised concerns that compelling Chinese firms to buy from U.S. firms could cause these American firms to become dependent on Chinese markets.

US officials favor tariffs as a way to maintain leverage on China and ensure those obligations are met. He added that it was unlikely that China would agree to an enforcement mechanism that included re-imposition of unilateral US tariffs without the current tariffs being removed. During his presidential campaign, he assailed China for the "rape" of the American economy.

Asked about the benefits of an agreement for China, Trump said: "It's going to be great for China, in that China will continue to trade with the United States".

Lighthizer and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin are holding talks in Washington with a Chinese delegation this week after meeting together in Beijing last week. There has been a lot of convergence on the agenda of the talks in the United States and Chinese statements. To be sure, we've seen some progress in US-China trade talks, which is visible in the statements from both sides.

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