Trump-Xi meeting to end trade war may be pushed back to June, sources say

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A meeting between US President Donald Trump and Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping to end the trade war may be put back to June, sources have said, as they will not be able to finalise an agreement by April.

It had initially been hoped that they would be able to reach a deal more quickly, but one source who has been briefed on the arrangement told the South China Morning Post that a meeting in April was less likely, while another said the summit could be held in June.

Officials from both nations are stepping up negotiations on the text of the trade agreement, but a source said there was a divergence within the Trump administration regarding the deal with China.

The main division within the White House is how much importance will be attached to an enforcement mechanism to ensure the Chinese side lives up to its side of the bargain, or whether it will be enough to secure an agreement in principle and declare success.

Xi and Trump were originally expected to meet at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago private resort in late March, but US ambassador to China Terry Branstad later said the summit had been delayed because the deal was still under discussion.

Then it appeared likely they would meet the following month, but the timetable now appears to have been put back once again.

However, the two sides are working to keep momentum going, and this week official Chinese state news agency Xinhua said “concrete progress” had been made following a phone conversation between Vice-Premier Liu He and US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin on Thursday.

It is not yet known where Trump and Xi would meet in June, but the Chinese president is also expected to travel to Osaka in Japan for the G20 summit.

The US has been pushing China to address a number of long-standing grievances that include the alleged theft of intellectual property, forced technology transfer and unfair competition.

Plans for a meeting between Donald Trump and Xi Jinping appear to have been postponed once against. Photo: AP
Plans for a meeting between Donald Trump and Xi Jinping appear to have been postponed once against. Photo: AP

A meeting between US President Donald Trump and Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping to end the trade war may be put back to June, sources have said, as they will not be able to finalise an agreement by April.

It had initially been hoped that they would be able to reach a deal more quickly, but one source who has been briefed on the arrangement told the South China Morning Post that a meeting in April was less likely, while another said the summit could be held in June.

Officials from both nations are stepping up negotiations on the text of the trade agreement, but a source said there was a divergence within the Trump administration regarding the deal with China.

The main division within the White House is how much importance will be attached to an enforcement mechanism to ensure the Chinese side lives up to its side of the bargain, or whether it will be enough to secure an agreement in principle and declare success.

Xi and Trump were originally expected to meet at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago private resort in late March, but US ambassador to China Terry Branstad later said the summit had been delayed because the deal was still under discussion.

Then it appeared likely they would meet the following month, but the timetable now appears to have been put back once again.

However, the two sides are working to keep momentum going, and this week official Chinese state news agency Xinhua said “concrete progress” had been made following a phone conversation between Vice-Premier Liu He and US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin on Thursday.

It is not yet known where Trump and Xi would meet in June, but the Chinese president is also expected to travel to Osaka in Japan for the G20 summit.

What is Trump offering allies who side with him against Huawei?

The US has been pushing China to address a number of long-standing grievances that include the alleged theft of intellectual property, forced technology transfer and unfair competition.

Lighthizer, a noted China hawk who urged Trump to slap tariffs on Chinese goods, has been one of the main figures pushing for an enforcement mechanism to ensure that it lives up to any pledges it gives.

But Beijing was alarmed by the proposals and argued that enforcement must be “two-way, fair and equal”.

The tough stance taken by Washington’s top trade negotiator has won bipartisan support in the US Congress, as well as respect from his Chinese counterparts who describe him as detail-oriented and unlikely to back down.

“Lighthizer is a very professional and experienced trade negotiator. Talking to him is the right track to take,” another source said.

“Lighthizer is a tough negotiator but China pays high respect to him. China needs to step up its research on him”.

Critics have suggested that Trump’s enthusiasm for more tariffs may have eased because of the recent stock market fall and concerns over the wider US economy, particularly from farmers who rely on exports to China.

It has also been suggested that the reforms to China’s economic policies demanded by the US could take years to enact.

During a St Patrick’s Day reception at the White House on Thursday, Trump said: “We’ll have news on China. Probably one way or the other, we’re going to know over the next three to four weeks.

He added that China had been “very responsible and very reasonable”.

“If that one gets done, it will be something that people will be talking about for a long time.”

Source:www.scmp.com/news/china/diplomacy/article/3001943/trump-xi-meeting-end-trade-war-may-be-put-back-june-sources

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