Fri, Feb 15, 2019 - Page 1 News List

Trump mulling extension to tariff deadline: sources

Bloomberg

Chinese Vice Premier Liu He, second right, sits before the opening session of trade negotiations with US representatives at the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse in Beijing yesterday.

Photo: EPA-EFE

US President Donald Trump is considering pushing back a deadline for the imposition of higher tariffs on Chinese imports by 60 days, as the world’s two biggest economies try to negotiate a solution to their trade dispute, people familiar with the matter said.

Trump on Tuesday said that he was open to letting the March 1 deadline to more than double tariffs on US$200 billion of Chinese goods slide if the two countries are close to a deal that addresses deep structural changes to China’s economic policies.

However, he added that he was not “inclined” to do so.

The people said that Trump is weighing whether to add 60 days to the deadline to give negotiations more time to continue.

“I think it’s going along very well,” Trump told reporters earlier this week. “They’re showing us tremendous respect.”

A spokeswoman for US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer declined to comment.

Chinese officials had proposed an extension of 90 days, but that was rejected by the US side, people familiar with the request said.

Lighthizer and US Secretary of the Treasury Steven Mnuchin are in Beijing for the latest round of high-level talks with Chinese Vice Premier Liu He (劉鶴) yesterday and today.

A meeting between Lighthizer and Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) was being tentatively scheduled for this week, and Trump’s willingness to extend the deadline depends on the outcome of that meeting, one of the people said.

Trump has indicated that he would need to meet Xi to agree on a final deal.

Negotiations have this week been focused on how to enforce the trade deal and putting on paper a framework agreement to present to the two presidents.

In the talks, the US called for wide-ranging changes in the way China manages foreign trade and its own economy. Specifically, Lighthizer has zeroed in on China’s alleged abuses of intellectual property and state sponsorship of companies.

China wants to have the tariffs that have been imposed so far removed. To get the US to do that, negotiators have been trying to focus attention on their efforts to reduce China’s more than US$300 billion trade surplus.

Beijing has offered to massively ramp up its purchases from the US over the next six years to even the scales.

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