President Donald Trump plans to meet with China’s top trade negotiator Friday afternoon as the U.S. tries to forge a preliminary deal with its biggest economic rival before tariffs on some Chinese imports more than double next month, two people familiar with the matter said.
The meeting with Chinese Vice Premier Liu He would cap the latest round of talks in Washington, with Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer leading the U.S. delegation. Plans for a meeting between Trump and Liu signal optimism that talks are making sufficient progress to warrant another face-to-face meeting between the two men.
As the discussions continued Thursday, reports emerged that negotiators are working on memorandums of understanding that would form the basis of a final deal. The MoUs would cover areas including agriculture, non-tariff barriers, services, technology transfer and intellectual property, according to a person briefed on the talks.
The U.S. and China have set a March 1 deadline to negotiate an agreement before American tariffs on $200 billion in Chinese imports rise to 25 percent from 10 percent. In a Twitter post on Sunday, after a week-long round of talks in Beijing, Trump said “big progress being made on soooo many different fronts!”
China is proposing that it could buy an additional $30 billion a year of U.S. agricultural products including soybeans, corn and wheat as part of a possible trade deal, according to people with knowledge of the plan.
The U.S. is also asking China to keep the value of the yuan stable to neutralize any effort to devalue the currency to counter U.S. tariffs.
The White House declined to comment about a Trump-Liu meeting Friday.
Investors are keeping a close eye on negotiations considering a setback could undermine global markets as concerns grow that the bilateral tensions are hurting world trade. Shipping giant Maersk said Thursday that profit will fall short of expectations and the outlook for this year is bleak, while South Korea and Japan have reported declines in exports.
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