Trump meets German, Chinese leaders
President Donald Trump neared the end of an attenuated visit to the Group of 20 summit here Saturday, sitting down with the leaders of China and Germany, two countries he has threatened with trade wars over what he calls their unfair commercial practices.
“We have a tremendous trade imbalance, but we’re going to get that straightened out,” Trump said before a meeting with Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany. “We all understand each other.”
Merkel said the two leaders would also discuss Ukraine, where a clash between Russian and Ukrainian ships last week caused tensions to flare between the two neighbors. It was cited by Trump as the reason he canceled a meeting with President Vladimir Putin at the meeting in Buenos Aires.
Later Saturday, Trump was scheduled to have dinner with President Xi Jinping of China to discuss ways to avoid a new round of tariffs that some analysts fear could provoke a full-fledged economic Cold War between the world’s two largest economies.
“We'll be talking about a thing called trade,” Trump told reporters. “It’s a very important meeting.”
China is seeking to prevent Trump from following through on a plan to raise tariffs on $250 billion in Chinese goods to 25 percent, from 10 percent, on Jan. 1. In return, U.S. officials said, the Chinese were likely to offer to increase their purchases of U.S. soybeans and natural gas.
Neither a dramatic breakthrough nor an acrimonious breakdown was expected at the dinner. The most likely outcome, officials said, was an agreement to keep talking – a truce not unlike the one that Trump agreed to recently with the European Union.
Trump’s single-minded focus on trade with Germany has put Merkel in an awkward spot because Germany, as a member of the European Union, cannot negotiate separately on trade issues with the United States.