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US-China trade deal signing could be delayed to December

Reuters WASHINGTON | Updated on November 07, 2019

Chinese President Xi Jinping and US President Donald Trump (file photo)   -  Reuters

A meeting between US President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping to sign a long-awaited interim trade deal could be delayed until December as discussions continue over terms and venue, a senior official of the Trump administration told Reuters on Wednesday.

The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said it was still possible the “phase one” agreement aimed at ending a damaging trade war would not be reached, but a deal was more likely than not. Dozens of venues have been suggested for the meeting, which had originally been scheduled to take place on the sidelines of a cancelled mid-November summit of Asia-Pacific leaders in Chile, the official said.

One possible location is London, where the two leaders could meet after a NATO summit that Trump is due to attend from December 3-4, the official said. “It's under consideration but nothing decided,” the official said. Other sites are possible in Europe and Asia, but the former is more likely, with Sweden and Switzerland among the possibilities. Iowa, which Trump has suggested, appeared to have been ruled out, the official said.

China's latest push for more tariff rollbacks would be discussed, but was not expected to derail progress toward an interim deal. The official said China was believed to see a quick deal as its best chance for favourable terms, given pressure Trump is facing from a congressional impeachment inquiry as he seeks re-election in 2020.

US Treasury prices gained on Wednesday on word that the talks could be delayed, while some investors also repositioned after a three-day sell-off. The dollar slid and the three-day global stock market rally paused as U.S. productivity data disappointed and investors turned a bit cautious about US-China trade talks. ”Negotiations are continuing and progress is being made on the text of the phase one agreement,” White House spokesman Judd Deere said. “We will let you know when we have an announcement on a signing location.

China's embassy in Washington did not immediately respond to requests for comment. An interim US-China deal is widely expected to include a US pledge to scrap tariffs scheduled for December 15 on about $156 billion worth of Chinese imports, including cell phones, laptop computers and toys.

People familiar with the negotiations said on Monday that China has been pushing Trump to remove more tariffs imposed in September as part of the first phase of the deal. A US official said the fate of the December 15 tariffs is being considered as part of negotiations.

Published on November 07, 2019

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