Washington, Apr 4 (EFE).- President Donald Trump said Thursday that negotiators for the United States and China are “very close” to reaching agreement on a comprehensive trade pact.
“It’s got a very, very good chance of happening. I think that will be great for both countries,” he told reporters at the White House as he welcomed Chinese Vice Premier Liu He to the Oval Office.
While some media outlets suggested that Trump would use the occasion of Liu’s visit to announce a date for a summit in the US with Chinese President Xi Jinping, the US leader said that a meeting with his counterpart would be conditional on the status of the trade talks.
“We are getting very close to making a deal. Progress is being made at a very rapid pace,” Trump said. “If we have a deal, there will be a summit.
I would say we’ll know over the next four weeks.”
The process has the potential to deliver an “epic” trade agreement, he said.
Liu likewise sounded an optimistic note, crediting Trump with spurring “great progress” in the talks.
“Hopefully we’ll get a good result,” the vice premier said.
“Everything is covered, there’s nothing that’s not covered,” Trump said. “It’s got to be a great deal. If it’s not a great deal, we’re not doing it.”
A trade war between the world’s two largest economies erupted last year after the Trump administration imposed tariffs on $250 billion worth of Chinese goods, prompting Beijing to retaliate with tariffs on $110 billion in US products.
During an encounter last December on the sidelines of the G-20 summit in Argentina, Trump and Xi agreed to a 90-day truce in the trade conflict to allow for talks.
The cease-fire was due to expire March 1, but Trump extended the deadline, citing progress in the negotiations as the reason to suspend a scheduled increase in the tariff rate from 10 percent to 25 percent.
US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin traveled to Beijing last week for discussions with a delegation led by Vice Premier Liu.
Said to be a key sticking point in the negotiations is whether a rollback of all tariffs imposed by both sides will be included in the deal.
China is demanding that all levies be lifted, while the US has been resistant to completely removing the tariffs due to concerns that Beijing will not fulfill its commitments unless Washington retains some form of leverage.