If China deal close, Trump says he might de­lay tar­iff dead­line

The Tribune (SLO) - - News/obituaries - BY DEB­O­RAH B. SOLOMON

WASH­ING­TON

Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump said Tues­day that he would con­sider de­lay­ing a March 2 dead­line to reach a trade deal with China, say­ing the United States might not im­pose higher tar­iffs on Chi­nese goods if talks with Bei­jing were go­ing well.

“If we’re close to a deal where we think we can make a real deal, I could see my­self let­ting them slide for a lit­tle while,” Trump said dur­ing re­marks at the Oval Of­fice.

Trump’s com­ments came as U.S. of­fi­cials were in Bei­jing for a week of talks with Chi­nese of­fi­cials to try to re­solve a trade war that has be­gun to in­flict eco­nomic dam­age on both sides of the Pa­cific. The two coun­tries are try­ing to work out sig­nif­i­cant dif­fer­ences be­fore the March 2 dead­line, when the United States has said it will in­crease tar­iffs on $200 bil­lion worth of Chi­nese goods to 25 per­cent from 10 per­cent.

Both Trump and his top trade ne­go­tia­tor, Robert Lighthizer, have pre­vi­ously said that the dead­line is a firm date and that the United States will not ex­tend the time­line, which Trump and Pres­i­dent Xi Jin­ping of China agreed upon dur­ing a din­ner in Buenos Aires, Ar­gentina, last year.

But with many of the big­gest is­sues un­re­solved and the dead­line draw­ing near, Trump ap­peared ready to give both sides more time to ne­go­ti­ate. And he once again sug­gested that he and Xi may ul­ti­mately need to iron out the re­main­ing dif­fer­ences be­fore a fi­nal deal is reached.

The pres­i­dent had orig­i­nally sug­gested that such a meet­ing could take place be­fore the dead­line but re­versed course last week, say­ing he would not meet with Xi be­fore March 2.

A del­e­ga­tion of top U.S. trade of­fi­cials, in­clud­ing Lighthizer and Trea­sury Sec­re­tary Steven Mnuchin, ar­rived in Bei­jing this week to try to ne­go­ti­ate the out­lines of a deal.

Trump char­ac­ter­ized those dis­cus­sions as “go­ing well” and said he thought the United States had a chance “to make a real deal.”

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