At a press briefing at the Oval Office on Feb. 22, President Donald Trump and U.S. officials said the Chinese delegation who arrived in Washington for trade talks this week will be extending their trip because negotiations were going well.
They will continue meeting with the American delegation over the weekend and depart the U.S. capital on Sunday evening or Monday, Trump told reporters, with Chinese Vice Premier Liu He also in attendance.
The president also confirmed that a meeting with Chinese leader Xi Jinping to “work out the final points”of a trade deal was being planned for sometime in March, “probably at Mar-a-Lago,” the Florida resort that Trump owns, he said.
The two sides have met in Beijing and Washington in recent weeks as part of ongoing negotiations after Trump and Xi agreed to a 90-day truce to stave off U.S. tariffs on Chinese imports from escalating, during a December 2018 meeting at the sidelines of the G-20 Summit in Argentina.
Though the initial deadline was for both sides to reach a trade agreement by March 1, Trump said on Feb. 22 that he was open to extending the deadline.
Trump also said that the two sides have negotiated a deal regarding China’s currency manipulation, though he did not provide further details.
Asked by reporters about the prospects of finalizing a trade deal, Trump said, “the fact that they’re willing to stay longer means something,” adding that he believed there was a “good chance” a deal could be reached.
“Both parties want to make it a meaningful deal” that is beneficial for both countries, Trump said.
Liu, speaking through a translator, said, “We believe it is very likely that it will happen. The Chinese side is ready to make the utmost effort.”
When asked whether the two sides have reached a compromise regarding structural reforms in China such as the issue of forced technology transfers, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer said the two sides “made a lot of progress.”
As the trade dispute simmered, the U.S. Department of Justice indicted Chinese tech giant Huawei and its chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou for allegedly skirting U.S. sanctions on Iran. Meng is currently out on bail in Canada as she awaits an extradition hearing.
Asked whether Meng’s case would be part of the trade deal, Trump said it has not been discussed, but the trade delegation would touch upon it “in the next couple of weeks” with the U.S. Attorney General about whether that would be a possibility.
The Chinese trade delegation also read out to Trump a message from Xi: “It is my hope that our two sides will continue to work together in a spirit of mutual respect and … cooperation and could redouble our efforts so as to meet each other halfway and reach an agreement that works for our mutual benefit,” according to a White House pool report.
Xi also gave Trump greetings for the Lunar New Year holidays and said he was “ready to be in close touch with you through various means,” the message said.