The United States is delaying a planned increase of tariffs on more than $200 billion in Chinese exports after "substantial progress" made in trade talks, US President Donald Trump said.

US President Donald Trump also said he planned to hold a summit with Chinese President Xi Jinping at his Florida estate Mar-a-Lago to ink a deal. (January 30, 2019)
US President Donald Trump also said he planned to hold a summit with Chinese President Xi Jinping at his Florida estate Mar-a-Lago to ink a deal. (January 30, 2019) (Reuters)

US President Donald Trump said on Sunday he will extend a deadline to escalate tariffs on Chinese imports, citing "substantial progress" in weekend talks between the two countries.

Trump tweeted that there had been "productive talks," adding that "I will be delaying the U.S. increase in tariffs now scheduled for March 1."

Trump said that if negotiations progress, he will meet with Chinese President Xi Jinping at his Florida resort to finalise an agreement.

Speaking to governors gathered at the White House for an annual black-tie ball on Sunday, Trump said he was doing "very well" with China.

"If all works well we're going to have some very big news over the next week or two," he said, though he took care to add that "we still have a little ways to go."

The reprieve is likely to be greeted with relief by financial markets.

US and Chinese negotiators met through the weekend as they seek to resolve a trade war that has rattled financial markets.

Trump had warned he would escalate the tariffs he has imposed on $200 billion in Chinese imports, from 10 to 25 percent, if the two sides failed to reach a deal. The increase was scheduled to take effect at 12:01 am EST (05:01 GMT) on March 2.

Kate Fisher has more from Washington DC.

Mounting pressure

The world's two biggest economies have been locked in a conflict over US allegations that China steals technology and forces foreign companies to hand over trade secrets in an aggressive push to challenge American technological dominance.

The two counties have slapped import taxes on hundreds of billions of dollars of each other's goods.

The conflict has shaken financial markets and clouded the outlook for the global economy, putting pressure on Trump and Xi to reach a deal.

"Trump clearly wants a deal and so do the Chinese, which certainly raises the probability that the two sides will come to some sort of negotiated agreement, even if it is a partial one, in the coming weeks," said Cornell University economist Eswar Prasad, former head of the International Monetary Fund's China division.

But business groups and lawmakers in Congress want to see a comprehensive deal that forces the Chinese to change their behaviour and can be enforced.

Source: AP