Trump heads to Buenos Aires on Thursday for a Group of 20 summit that is confronted with increasingly dire warnings, by the International Monetary Fund among others, of the potential harm faced by the world economy from the president's trade wars.
Those discussions, according to people familiar with them, have centered on the possibility of a truce in which the USA would delay ramping up tariffs on China in exchange for Chinese concessions.
"This G-20 will be a critically important meeting - it is about the two biggest economies addressing their differences to provide certainty and stability to the global economy", he said prior to departure.
The two sides have also been eyeing a possible mid-December trip to Washington by Liu He, Xi's top economic adviser, according to two people familiar with the discussions.
"I think China wants to make a deal". Trade and tariffs have been topics of increasing tension between the two countries since Trump started ratcheting up the heat earlier this year in a series of escalating tariffs on Chinese imports.
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Trump didn't elaborate further.
The China Daily editorial said even if a deal were struck it was unlikely to be a comprehensive solution to the trade impasse due to "diverging demands and agendas". "If the USA does not do that, these forums flounder". And 10 percent tariffs on $200 billion of Chinese goods are scheduled to rise to a more prohibitive 25 percent on January 1, 2019 unless a truce is agreed.
He also threatened tariffs on $267bn of other Chinese exports to the US. A Honda executive at the September hearing testified tariffs are hurting the entire auto supply chain, calling the business environment in the USA "unsettling".
A Chinese response to US demands sent earlier this month amounted to a rehash of previous commitments and pledges that Xi had made in recent speeches, according to people familiar with the discussions.
White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders told reporters shortly after take-off Trump had conferred in person with Chief of Staff John Kelly and Secretary of State Pompeo aboard presidential plane Air Force One - as well as by phone with National Security Advisor Bolton, who is in Brazil - before announcing the U-turn. Yes, most Apple products including iPhones have so far been excluded from tariffs on Chinese goods, but even Apple's mighty influence with the USA government can't win the company a permanent reprieve from trade war pain.
Officials in Washington and Beijing have spoken for several weeks about setting up talks that could delay the tariffs until at least the end of the spring, as they seek to avert escalation of their trade war, The Wall Street Journal said.
The USTR statement follows a pair of tweets from Donald Trump in response to General Motors' decision to close several plants and layoff thousands of workers, in which Trump implied a higher tariff on cars imported to the us could have prevented GM from closing factories. Hawks in his administration have also been eager to see broader changes in Chinese industrial and technology policy.