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Trump says could extend March 1 China trade talks deadline

  • 13 Feb 2019

US president's comments come as the third round of trade negotiations between the US and China are set to resume in Beijing to avert more than doubling tariffs on $200 billion in Chinese imports.

US President Donald Trump announces a deal to end the partial government shutdown as he speaks in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, US, January 25, 2019. ( Reuters )

US President Donald Trump said Tuesday he would consider extending the deadline for a trade deal with China beyond March 1.

"If we're close to a deal, where we think we can make a real deal... I could see myself letting that slide for a little while," Trump told reporters at the White House.

But he added: "Generally speaking I'm not inclined to do that."

The comments came as the third round of trade negotiations were set to resume in Beijing to avert more than doubling tariffs on $200 billion in Chinese imports.

"China wants to make a deal very badly," he said, and "things are going well" in the talks. And while no date has yet been agreed for a meeting with China's President Xi Jinping, he said he expects that to happen "at some point."

The high-stakes dispute has raised concerns it could spill over into the global economy after Trump last year hit China with 25 percent punitive tariffs on $50 billion in goods, and then imposed 10 percent duties on another $200 billion in annual imports.

The rate on all those imports are set to increase to 25 percent if no agreement is reached by March 1.

China's economy already has shown signs of slowing, while the trade war has shaken the confidence of US businesses, as retaliatory tariffs have raised prices and helped choke off a key export market.

And Trump's aggressive strategy has failed to produce a reduction in the US trade deficit with China, which he set as a primary goal.

He repeated the incorrect statement that China is paying the duties, which in fact are paid by US companies importing goods.

And economists say much of the intended effect of the duties in reducing imports, has been offset by the devaluation of China's currency, which makes goods cheaper for importers.

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