Trump Says March 1 Deadline for Trade Talks, not ‘Magical’ Date

The United States President Donald Trump said on Tuesday that the on-going trade talks between the U.S. and China is transitioning smoothly and he was open to pushing off the deadline to complete negotiations. He also said that the March 1 deadline was not a “magical” date.

By March 1, if the two largest economies do not hammer a deal tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese imports are scheduled to rise to 25 percent from 10 percent, but Trump has suggested several times that he would be open to postponing the deadline.

“They are very complex talks. They’re going very well,” Trump told reporters in the Oval Office. “I can’t tell you exactly about timing, but the date is not a magical date. A lot of things can happen.”

Trump said the real issue would be whether the United States would raise the tariffs as planned.

“I know that China would like not for that to happen, so I think they’re trying to move fast, so that doesn’t happen.”
It should be reported here that on Tuesday, both the countries launched a new round of talks in Washington, with follow-up sessions at a higher level scheduled for later in the week. The negotiations started after a week of talks in Beijing that ended last week without a deal but which officials said had yielded progress on some key issues.

As per a report by Bloomberg, the United States is seeking to make China commit that it will not devalue its yuan currency, as a part of the trade deal.

Officials from both the countries resumed talks on Tuesday in Washington. They are reportedly discussing how to address currency policy in a “Memorandum of Understanding” that would form the basis of a U.S.-China trade deal, the news agency reported, citing anonymous sources.

U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin had told Reuters last October the issue related to currency devaluation must be a part of U.S.-China trade negotiations and that Chinese officials told him that further depreciation of their currency, Yuan was not in their interest.

As per the report, the U.S. request for a pledge to keep the yuan’s value stable was aimed at neutralizing any effort by Beijing to devalue its currency to counter American tariffs.

Representatives for the U.S. Trade Representative’s office, which is leading the talks, and the U.S. Treasury, which leads currency policy, could not be reached for immediate comment.

Negotiations between deputy-level officials began on Tuesday. And it is expected to be going on for two days. Deputy U.S. Trade Representative Jeffrey Gerrish headed it on the U.S. side. Higher-level talks involving Mnuchin and led by USTR Robert Lighthizer, are expected to begin on Thursday.

The White House said in a statement issued late on Monday, this week’s talks were aimed at “achieving needed structural changes in China that affect trade between the United States and China. The two sides will also discuss China’s pledge to purchase a substantial amount of goods and services from the United States.”

Trump is considered eager for a deal, and he praised Chinese President Xi Jinping, while also insisting on structural changes to China’s practices related to intellectual property and forced technology transfers by companies doing business there, emphasized that progress was being made.

“I can only say that the talks with China on trade have gone very, very well,” he said.

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