US President Donald Trump, who announced last month that the Phase 1 trade deal with China would be signed on January 15, has said the agreement could be signed “shortly thereafter”.

“We’re going to be signing on January 15th – I think it will be January 15th, but shortly thereafter, but I think January 15th – a big deal with China,” Trump said in a US television interview.

Trump announced the January 15 signing date in a tweet on December 31.

The White House did not immediately respond to a request for clarification of Trump’s comments.

The Phase 1 deal, struck last month, is expected to reduce tariffs and boost Chinese purchases of American farm, energy and manufactured goods while addressing some disputes over intellectual property.

Chinese Vice Premier Liu He, head of the country’s negotiating team in Sino-US trade talks, will sign the deal in Washington next week, China’s commerce ministry said on Thursday.

Liu will visit Washington from January 13 to 15, said Gao Feng, spokesman at the commerce ministry.

Negotiating teams from both sides remain in close communication on the particular arrangements of the signing, Gao told reporters at a regular briefing.