WASHINGTON: US President Donald Trump said on Thursday (Feb 7) he did not expect to meet his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping before a March 1 deadline in trade war negotiations between the two economic superpowers.
“Not yet,” Trump told reporters at the White House when asked if a meeting had been arranged for within the next month.
Asked if a meeting could happen by Mar 1, he said: “No.”
Trump has said that final resolution of the trade dispute would depend on him and Xi meeting “in the near future.”
There had been speculation that Trump might meet the Chinese leader after he flies to Vietnam in late February for a summit with North Korea’s Kim Jong Un.
The United States has threatened to more than double existing tariffs on Chinese goods at the start of March if there is no agreement on measures to reform China’s trade practices, which Washington says are deeply unfair.
But top White House economist Larry Kudlow told Fox Business on Thursday that while Trump was “optimistic” about prospects for a deal, there remained a “sizeable distance” separating the two sides.
The benchmark Dow Jones Industrial Average lost more than 300 points following Kudlow’s remarks but pared some of these losses, closing down 0.9 per cent for the day.
Last week, Trump and Chinese officials had expressed optimism during the second round of talks in Washington about chances of striking a bargain but they released few details about progress in their talks.
The two sides have three weeks before US duty rates on many Chinese goods are due to jump sharply, which economists say could further weaken the global economy.
US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin are due to travel to China next week to continue for the third round of trade negotiations.
Washington is demanding far-reaching changes to Chinese industrial policy, which American officials allege involves the theft of American intellectual property and massive market distortions through subsidies and other measures.