Trump Says China Trade Pact Must Be ‘Real Deal’
President Donald Trump on Thursday insisted any new agreement on trade with China would have to be comprehensive and warned that a sweeping increase in US tariffs could take place in a month if there is no agreement.
Trump also said he expected to strike a bargain at an in-person meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping though details remained under discussion.
“I have to do the real deal. I have to open up China. We’re open to them, they have to be open to us,” Trump told reporters at the White House.
The comments came on the second day of high-stakes trade negotiations with a delegation from Beijing led by Vice Premier Liu He, who is due to meet with Trump later Thursday.
“I think we’re going to make a deal with China but it’s going to be a very comprehensive deal. We’re going to cover everything,” Trump said.
The two sides face a March 1 deadline to avert a sharp increase in US duties on $200 billion in Chinese exports — a prospect that economists say could further impact the global economy.
“I think we can do it by March 1. Can you get it down on paper by March 1? I don’t know,” Trump said.
“The rate goes from 10 percent to 25 percent on March 1, so they would like to do it and I’d like to accommodate them if we can.”
He remained upbeat on prospects for reaching an agreement, saying in a series of morning tweets that the talks were “going well.”
Media reports indicated the two sides were considering a Trump-Xi meeting in Asia in late February, days before the three-month tariff truce declared in December is due to expire.
The Wall Street Journal said Thursday that Beijing proposed a meeting on the Chinese island of Hainan in the South China Sea.
Signs of progress in the talks have lifted global stock markets in recent weeks as investors took heart that the world’s two largest economies would avert an economic cataclysm.
Opening up China
But Washington’s aggressive actions against Chinese telecoms firm Huawei — which federal prosecutors accused this week of industrial espionage, sanctions violations and fraud — threatened to upend the talks, drawing irate objections from Beijing.
The two sides last year traded blows, imposing steep tariffs on more than $360 billion in two-way trade, but the United States has more room to maneuver in the battle as it buys far more from China than the other way around.
Beijing has implemented economic stimulus measures to shore up its economy after its last year posted the weakest growth for almost 30 years — underscoring its vulnerability in the trade fight.
But US officials, including US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, say the world’s two largest economies are battling for nothing short of future dominance in critical high-tech industries.
A little over three years ago, Beijing launched a strategic plan dubbed “Made in China 2025” that aimed to make the nation the global leader in aerospace, robotics, artificial intelligence, new-generation autos and other areas — sectors US officials say now represent the “crown jewels” of American technology and innovation.
US officials are attacking Chinese trade practices they say are unfair, spotlighting the forced transfer of American technology through requirements that foreign companies form joint ventures with local firms, as well as other methods of allegedly stealing American intellectual property.
“Looking for China to open their Markets not only to Financial Services, which they are now doing, but also to our Manufacturing, Farmers and other US businesses and industries,” Trump said early Thursday on Twitter. “Without this, a deal would be unacceptable!”