Trump claims US is ‘getting very close’ to a China trade deal

President Donald Trump said Thursday the U.S. has moved close to a trade agreement with China after several false starts and near misses.

“Getting VERY close to a BIG DEAL with China. They want it, and so do we!” the president tweeted.

Trump’s acknowledgement that the U.S. wants a deal marks a shift in tone from recent weeks. He has repeatedly contended that Beijing needs an agreement more than Washington does, and suggested he was content waiting until after the November 2020 election to strike a deal.

Trump’s tweet came ahead of an expected meeting on Thursday with his top economic advisors on whether to delay the administration’s next round of tariffs on China. Duties of 15% on about $160 billion in consumer goods are set to take effect on Sunday, including on Chinese-made toys, computers, phones and clothing. 

Major U.S. stock indexes jumped following Trump’s tweet. Investors hope the U.S. and China can reach an accord before the tariff deadline and avoid a potentially damaging escalation in their nearly 2-year-old trade war.

Trump in October announced a partial “phase one” agreement with China as the world’s two largest economies try to rein in the economic conflict. Washington and Beijing have so far failed to sign the agreement, which would have involved increased Chinese purchases of U.S. agricultural products and possible tariff relief.

During months of trade talks with China, the president has previously touted progress before discussions crumbled. He has repeatedly said the negotiations are going well, even as trade officials struggled to reach a deal.

U.S. trade negotiators have offered to cut standing tariff rates on about $360 billion in Chinese goods by 50% and cancel the duties set to take effect Sunday, Dow Jones reported. The Trump administration has asked China for commitments to buy American products, and it would reapply the original tariff rates if Beijing does not follow through, according to the news wire.

The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative did not immediately respond to a request to comment.

Trump wants a broad trade agreement with China to address concerns about intellectual property theft, forced technology transfers and trade deficits. The president, who promised to crack down with China during his 2016 campaign, sees an agreement as an economic and political priority ahead of his 2020 reelection bid.

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