Trump quashes hopes of early resolution to US-China trade dispute

US president says reports from Beijing he had agreed to start phasing out tariffs were untrue

Hopes of an early end to the US-China trade war have received a setback after Donald Trump said he had yet to agree to start reducing tariffs on imports from America’s rival.

The US president said that while he was keen on a deal with China, reports from Beijing that he had agreed to start phasing out tariffs were untrue.

In what will be seen as an attempt to extract fresh concessions from Xi Jinping, Trump told reporters there was not a deal in place to reduce any levies on Chinese goods.

The Chinese commerce ministry had boosted optimism that 18 months of intensifying protectionism might be coming to an end when it said the two countries had agreed to cancel the tariffs in phases.

But there was immediate pushback from White House officials, who feel more work needs to be done before the two presidents can meet to sign a deal.

Although tariffs on imported goods are hitting corporate profits and leading to higher prices for US consumers, Trump said he was happy with the current state of affairs.

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“They’d like to have a rollback but I’ve not agreed to anything,” Trump said. “China would like to get somewhat of a rollback, not a complete rollback because they know I won’t do it.

“We’re getting along very well with China. They want to make a deal … frankly they want to make a deal a lot more than I do. I’m very happy right now, we’re taking in billions of dollars.”

Part of any agreement will be a pledge by China to buy more US agricultural products and Trump said the meeting could be in the farm state of Iowa.

The International Monetary Fund has warned that trade tensions have been a significant factor in the synchronised slowdown in the global economy, and the positive noises from Beijing were seen as a sign that both the US and China were now ready for a deal.

Contributor

Larry Elliott

The GuardianTramp

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