The Trump administration's top two negotiators in
trade talks with China will meet on Friday with Chinese President Xi Jinping, but there has been no decision to extend a March 1 US deadline for a deal, White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow said on Th ursday.
"The vibe in Beijing is good," Kudlow told Fox News Channel of the
U.S.-China talks that are set to conclude on Friday in Beijing.
But Kudlow's upbeat assessment contrasted with reports from two people familiar with the talks, who said progress has been difficult on the thorniest iss
ues involving US demands that China makes sweeping changes to curb forced technology transfers and to enforce intellectual property rights.
Sources briefed on the talks also told Reuters that China had pledged to make its industrial s
ubsidy programs compliant with World Trade Organisation rules and end those that distort markets, but had offered no details on how it intends to achieve that goal.
The offer has been met with scepticism from
US negotiators, in part because China has long refused to disclose its s ubsidies.
Negotiators from the two sides are pushing to de-escalate a tariff war that has dimmed global growth forecasts, roiled financial markets and disrupted manufacturing supply chains.
US tariffs on $200 billion worth of imports from China are scheduled to rise to 25 percent from 10 percent if the two sides do not reach a deal by March 1, increasing pressure and costs in sectors from consumer electronics to agriculture.
US President Donald Trump said earlier this week that an extension of the deadline was possible if a "real deal" was close, Kudlow, director of the National Economic Council, said the White House had made no such decision.
The talks, scheduled to run through Friday, follow three days of deputy-level
meetings to work out technical details, including a mechanism for enforcing any trade agreement.
China proposed in the talks this week to increase purchases of
US semiconductors to $200 billion over six years as part of a deal to ease American tariffs, a person briefed on the talks told Reuters. But the semiconductor proposal, first reported by the Wall Street Journal, was part of a "recycled" package of goods purchase offers that Beijing first presented in the spring of 2018, the source said. Cancelled Orders
China has also offered to sharply increase purchases of
US soybeans and other farm and energy commodities to help cut the US trade deficit, which exceeded $382 billion in 2018.
News that Chinese buyers had cancelled some recent orders for
US soybeans caused Chicago grain futures prices to tumble on Th ursday , while negative sentiment weighed on US stocks, keeping major indexes in negative territory. US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin opened high-level talks Th ursday at the Diaoyutai state g uest house with Chinese Vice Premier Liu He, the top economic adviser to Chinese President Xi.
Trump told reporters on Wednesday that the negotiations had been progressing "very well."
A Bloomberg report cited sources as saying Trump was considering pushing back the
deadline by 60 days to give negotiators more time after the Chinese side req uested a 90-day extension.
But a source familiar with the talks told Reuters on Wednesday, before the high-level talks began, that the Chinese had not raised the idea of a 90-day
Xijin, editor-in-chief of China's nationalist Global Times tabloid, also tweeted that speculation on an extension was "inaccurate," citing a source close to the talks.
Chinese Commerce Ministry spokesman Gao Feng told reporters he had no information on the
trade talks' progress.
Trump has said he did not expect to
meet with Xi before March 1, but White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders has raised the possibility of a meeting between the leaders at the president's Mar-a-Lago retreat in Florida.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said she noted Trump had said many times he wished to
meet with Xi, and that China was willing to maintain "close contact" with the US side, but said she had no information to share on any visit by the Chinese president. Trade Gap Narrows
The Chinese government has offered few details about the state of negotiations this week.
trade data released on Th ursday showed imports from the United States fell 41.2 percent from a year earlier to $9.24 billion, the lowest amount in dollar terms since February 2016.
Exports to the United States also declined 2.4 percent to $36.54 billion, the lowest amount since last April.
China's trade surplus with the United States narrowed to $27.3 billion in January, from $29.87 billion in December. China's soybean imports fell 13 percent in January from a year earlier, customs data showed, as a hefty duty on shipments from the United States, its second largest supplier, curbed purchases.