US and China ex­tend trade talks; Xi-Trump meet­ing may fol­low

The Tribune (SLO) - - News - BY PAUL WISE­MAN

WASH­ING­TON

U.S. and Chi­nese ne­go­tia­tors agreed Fri­day to ex­tend high-level trade talks through the week­end, and Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump said he hoped to meet next month at his Florida re­sort with Pres­i­dent Xi Jin­ping to try to fi­nal­ize an agree­ment.

The news fol­lowed two days of ne­go­ti­a­tions in Wash­ing­ton aimed at re­solv­ing a trade war that has rat­tled fi­nan­cial mar­kets and threat­ened global eco­nomic growth.

“We’re mak­ing a lot of progress,” Trump told re­porters at the White House. “I think there’s a very good chance that a deal can be made.”

Trea­sury Sec­re­tary Steven Mnuchin said the ne­go­ti­a­tions, which had been sched­uled to con­clude Fri­day af­ter­noon, would con­tinue through Sun­day. The Chi­nese del­e­ga­tion is led by Xi’s spe­cial en­voy, Vice Premier Liu He, the Amer­i­can team by Trade Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Robert Lighthizer.

Trump had orig­i­nally warned that he would es­ca­late the tar­iffs he has im­posed on $200 bil­lion in Chi­nese im­ports, from 10 per­cent to 25 per­cent, if the two sides failed to reach a deal by March 2. But in re­cent days, and again on Fri­day, he raised the pos­si­bil­ity of ex­tend­ing that dead­line if ne­go­tia­tors were near­ing an agree­ment.

The world’s two big­gest economies are spar­ring over U.S. al­le­ga­tions that Bei­jing uses preda­tory tac­tics in a drive to make Chi­nese com­pa­nies world lead­ers in such ad­vanced in­dus­tries as ro­bot­ics and driver­less cars.

Those tac­tics, the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion ar­gues, in­clude cy­bertheft, un­fair sub­si­dies for state-owned Chi­nese com­pa­nies, the use of reg­u­la­tions to hob­ble China’s for­eign com­peti­tors and pres­sure on Amer­i­can com­pa­nies to hand over tech­nol­ogy in ex­change for ac­cess to the Chi­nese mar­ket.

The ad­min­is­tra­tion con­tends that Bei­jing has re­peat­edly failed to live up to its past com­mit­ments to open its mar­kets and to treat for­eign com­pa­nies more fairly.

The pres­i­dent has im­posed 25 per­cent tar­iffs on $50 bil­lion in Chi­nese im­ports and 10 per­cent tar­iffs on $200 bil­lion worth. The lat­ter group­ing would face the 25 per­cent tar­iffs, too, if no agree­ment is reached.

Bei­jing has lashed back with im­port taxes of its own on $110 bil­lion in U.S. goods. These tar­iffs are heav­ily aimed at soy­beans and other agri­cul­tural prod­ucts in an ef­fort to pres­sure Trump sup­port­ers in the U.S. farm belt.

On Fri­day, the pres­i­dent and his ad­vis­ers pro­vided few de­tails on this week’s ne­go­ti­a­tions. Trump did say the two sides had reached some agree­ment on cur­rency ma­nip­u­la­tion but of­fered no specifics. The ad­min­is­tra­tion has ex­pressed con­cern that Bei­jing would blunt the im­pact of Trump’s sanc­tions by ma­nip­u­lat­ing its cur­rency down to give Chi­nese com­pa­nies a com­pet­i­tive edge in in­ter­na­tional mar­kets.

Trump said both sides want to “make this a real deal.”

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