‘Epic’ deal with China to take more time, Trump says
President Donald Trump stopped short of announcing a final trade deal with China on Thursday, saying in an Oval Office meeting with the Chinese delegation that it may take another four weeks or more to secure an “epic” trade agreement.
Negotiators had originally aimed to secure a deal this week during a visit from Liu He, the Chinese vice premier and special trade envoy, and announce a presidential summit between Trump and Xi Jinping of China. But after more than a year of tit-for-tat tariffs, on-and-off negotiations and threats of additional punishment, the United States and China continue to haggle over some remaining issues, including how many of the American tariffs on Chinese goods will be removed, and when.
“We’re talking intellectual property protection and theft. We’re talking about certain tariffs,” Trump said, refer
ring to issues that remain unresolved.
People familiar with the negotiations had said the president had been poised to announce a summit with China on Thursday afternoon. But in remarks at the White House the president said that no date for a meeting with Xi had been set. “If we have a deal then we’ll have a summit,” the president said.
He added that the deal was “very complete,” saying that “we’ve agreed to far more than we have left to agree to. I think I can say some of the toughest things have been agreed to.”
The United States has pressed China to make commitments on purchasing American goods, opening markets to foreign business and increasing protections for foreign intellectual property in a bid to rebalance an economic relationship that Trump says is unfair for American workers. It remains to be seen how sweeping and significant any agreement will be, and whether it will achieve the lofty promises Trump has made about resetting the economic relationship with Beijing.
In the meantime, industries from automakers to technology manufacturers to farmers have anxiously awaited an end to the trade war and details of a new agreement, which will have huge implications for their businesses.
The date and location of a meeting have also been controversial.
The United States had proposed holding a summit at Mar-a-Lago, Trump’s Florida resort, but China has been pushing for an official state visit in Washington, or a neutral location in a third country, people familiar with the matter said. The two sides have been looking to hold it this month, though it could be delayed if a final agreement is not reached soon.
The two sides spent the past two months drawing up more than 120 pages of an agreement covering issues including forced technology transfer and cybertheft, intellectual property rights, currency and nontariff barriers to trade.
The president’s tariffs have been successful at bringing the Chinese to the negotiating table, and his advisers have insisted they will not squander an opportunity to press China for substantial economic reforms that past administrations were unable to secure. Still, the Chinese have balked at making any reforms that could be viewed as infringing on their sovereignty or undercutting the Communist Party’s control of the economy.
In the meantime, Beijing has introduced a steady drumbeat of other reforms intended to please American constituencies and win Trump’s favor. In the past several weeks, China has resumed purchases of American soybeans and announced it would reclassify fentanyl, which has fueled the American opioid epidemic, as a controlled substance. Beijing also approved a sweeping rewrite of a foreign investment law that may help foreign companies avoid unequal treatment. And it approved a request by JPMorgan Chase to establish a majority owned and controlled securities brokerage firm in the country and floated the idea of expanding access for foreign cloud computing companies.
China experts have cautioned that the longrunning economic stresses between the countries are unlikely to be entirely put to rest with this round of negotiations.