Trump Says No To Xi Jinping Meeting Before Trade Deal Deadline

February 8, 2019 – U.S. President Donald Trump said last he does not plan to meet with Chinese President Xi Jinping before a March 1 trade deal deadline set by the leaders in an effort to end the tariff war between the countries.

Asked by a reporter whether he would meet Xi before the deadline, Trump said “No” — an about-face from his earlier suggestion that he will do so to “discuss some final issues” for a comprehensive trade deal.

His position, together with a threat to raise tariffs on more Chinese imports on March 2, may be a U.S. tactic to extract concessions from China, especially in structural areas such as alleged intellectual property theft and forced technology transfer.

U.S. and Hong Kong media have reported that Trump and Xi may meet in late February — possibly around the time of a U.S.-North Korea summit on Feb. 27-28 in Vietnam — to clinch a trade agreement.

Asked whether there could be a meeting with Xi around March, Trump said, “Not yet. Maybe.”

White House officials have been cautious about conflating the trade and North Korea issues, despite China’s invitation for Trump to meet Xi immediately after the U.S.-North Korea summit, U.S. business news network CNBC reported Thursday.

A senior Trump administration official said Trump and Xi may meet shortly after March 2, CNBC said.

Speaking to Fox Business on Thursday, White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow said the administration is hoping for a trade agreement with China, but, “We’ve got a pretty sizable distance to go.”

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Wednesday he, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and other senior administration officials will travel to Beijing next week for trade talks, aiming to strike a deal before the deadline.

In a Dec. 1 summit in Argentina, Trump and Xi agreed a truce in which both sides pledged to refrain from imposing further tariffs on each other’s imports for 90 days while trying to complete talks to end the trade war.

Trump has vowed to raise tariffs on $200 billion of Chinese goods from 10 to 25 percent on March 2 unless the two sides strike a deal to address what Washington perceives as Beijing’s “unfair” trade practices.

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