Trump rules out meeting with Xi before China trade dialogue deadline
President Donald Trump at a signing ceremony in the Oval Office on Feb. 7, 2019. EFE-EPA/ Jim Lo Scalzo
Washington, Feb 7 (efe-epa).- President Donald Trump on Thursday ruled out meeting with his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping, before the theoretical deadline for concluding trade negotiations between the US and China.
"No," Trump responded when asked by reporters at the White House if he would be meeting with Xi before the deadline.
However, Trump left the door open to meeting with Xi in the weeks after that date, which had been announced on Dec. 1 during the G20 summit in Buenos Aires.
In his State of the Union address on Tuesday, Trump said that he is working with Xi to achieve a new bilateral trade accord but that "it must include real, structural change to end unfair trade practices, reduce our chronic trade deficit, and protect American jobs."
Trump went on to say in his address to Congress that "now our Treasury is receiving billions and billions of dollars" as a result of the tariffs he ordered imposed on some $250 billion worth of Chinese goods.
White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow told Fox Business that although Trump was optimistic that a trade deal could be worked out, there was a "pretty sizable distance" between the two countries' negotiating positions at present.
"At some point the two presidents will meet, that is what Mr. Trump has been saying. But that is off in the distance still at the moment," he said.
In December, Trump agreed to suspend for 90 days - until March 1 - his plan to levy 25 percent tariffs on hundreds of products imported from China.
The doubt now exists, however, whether that term will be extended and if the current 10 percent tariffs will be maintained.
According to CNBC, citing Trump administration officials, the US government will not hike the tariffs on Beijing on March 1 even if no accord has yet been reached to end the bilateral trade war.
In all, Washington has imposed tariffs on Chinese products valued at some $250 billion since July and Trump had threatened to sanction goods worth another $267 billion each year, which would exceed the volume of Chinese imports, which in 2017 amounted to $506 billion.
In reprisal, China has imposed tariffs on more than $60 billion in US goods, about half of the $130 billion worth of goods it purchased from this country in 2017.