- Deputy-level meetings between the US and China are scheduled to begin on Thursday in Washington.
- But President Donald Trump told reporters on Tuesday that a trade deal might not happen until after the 2020 elections.
- “China thinks I’m going to win so easily,” Trump said. “They’re concerned because I told them if it’s after the election, it’s going to be far worse than what it is right now.”
President Donald Trump on Tuesday dimmed hopes for an imminent détente with China, telling reporters that a trade deal might not happen until after the 2020 elections.
Deputy-level meetings are scheduled to begin on Thursday in Washington, according to a top US Trade Representative official. The meetings are meant to pave the way for higher-level negotiations, but the two sides remain divided on key issues.
“If it’s after the election, it’ll be a deal like you’ve never seen,” Trump said aboard Air Force One. “It’ll be the greatest deal ever, and China knows that. They think I’m going to win. China thinks I’m going to win so easily. And they’re concerned because I told them if it’s after the election, it’s going to be far worse than what it is right now.”
Chamber of Commerce CEO Tom Donohue said at a press conference on Monday that Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer had similarly told business executives that it had been a challenge to reach a deal and that the two sides had a significant amount of work left to do.
Lighthizer “was pretty clear that we have to do this one step at a time but that this has to be real agreement,” Donohue said.
The Trump administration has struggled to make tangible progress on trade issues in China that it identified in a Section 301 investigation last year, such as intellectual-property theft and how to enforce any new rules to address it.
Just as the two sides were on the cusp of a deal this spring, the US said China reneged on nearly all its commitments in a draft document, leading to a series of significant tariff escalations and stalled negotiations for several weeks.
Trump has also expressed frustration about the trade balance between the two sides. He has for months sought to open the market in China back up to American farmers, who have dealt with steep retaliatory tariffs on agricultural products for more than a year.
“It is expected that China will be buying large amounts of our agricultural products!” Trump tweeted last week.
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