A Sunday next week deadline is still in place to impose a new round of US tariffs on Chinese consumer goods, but US President Donald Trump likes where trade talks with China are going, top White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow said on Friday.
With a week to go before the deadline amid “intense” negotiations, Kudlow said Trump would make the final decision on the import tariffs, which would hit Chinese-made cellphones, laptop computers, toys and clothing.
“There’s no arbitrary deadline here ... but that fact remains December 15 is a very important date with respect to a no-go or go on tariffs,” Kudlow, the director of White House’s National Economic Council, told CNBC. “It’s going to be totally up to POTUS [the US president]. But December 15th is an important date.”
China earlier on Friday said it would waive import tariffs for some soybeans and pork shipments from the US, contributing to a more positive tone in financial market sentiment about the talks.
Kudlow, speaking to reporters at the White House, described the waivers as “good-mood music” for the negotiations between the world’s two largest economies.
Washington and Beijing are trying to reach agreement on a “phase one” trade deal that would cool a 17-month trade dispute that has roiled financial markets, disrupted supply chains and weighed on global economic growth.
China has demanded that some of the US tariffs imposed on about US$375 billion of its exports be removed, in addition to cancelation of Sunday next week’s tariffs on about US$156 billion of its remaining exports to the US.
Trump has demanded that China commit to specific minimum purchases of US agricultural products, among other concessions on intellectual property rights, currency and access to China’s financial services markets.
“We’ve all learned that if he is not satisfied with these talks ... then he would not hesitate to increase tariffs,” Kudlow said.
Kudlow said the two sides have talked almost daily, but there are no plans for in-person talks or a signing ceremony between Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平).
“None of those decisions have been made ... let’s get a deal first and then we’ll figure out how, when and where they’ll do the signing,” he said.
Trump struck an upbeat tone on Thursday even after Chinese officials reiterated their stance that existing tariffs must come off as part of an interim deal to de-escalate the dispute.
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