President Donald Trump on Monday again said a trade deal is imminent with Beijing that will help American farmers hurt by retaliation in the grinding conflict between the economic powers.
“We’re looking probably to be ahead of schedule to sign very big portion of the China deal, and we will call it phase one,” Trump told reporters.
The deal will “take care of the farmers” as well as “some of the other things” like banking, he said in another of his impromptu briefings before departing on a trip to Chicago.
Washington and Beijing have exchanged blows for over a year, with tariffs now impacting hundreds of billions of dollars in two-way trade.
US farmers were the first to be targeted with steep duties on soybeans and pork and the Trump administration has rolled out millions of dollars in support programs to help those caught in the crossfire.
Now with the 2020 presidential election approaching, and Trump under pressure from the impeachment inquiry in Congress, US trade officials have focused on getting a partial deal on the books.
The US president confirmed that he expects to sign the pact with his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping on the sidelines of the APEC summit in Santiago in mid-November.
The Chinese Commerce Ministry said Saturday both sides agreed to “properly address each other’s core concerns.”
China will lift a ban on US poultry imports while the United States will import Chinese-made cooked poultry and catfish products, it said in a statement.
US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin spoke with China’s Vice Premier Liu He on Friday and said they were “close to finalizing some sections of the agreement,” although they have released few details.
Both sides have said discussions will go on continuously at the deputy level and that top trade officials will have another call “in the near future.”
The White House held off on a massive tariff increase planned for October 15 on $250 billion in Chinese goods, but new 15 percent tariffs on another $150 billion in goods are still scheduled for December.
In another development Monday, USTR announced it plans to consider extending for another 12 months some of the tariff exemptions granted last year on one of the earliest stages of the trade battle.
The exclusions on specialty products, motors and medical devices, including radiation systems to treat cancer, were set to expire in December.
USTR is seeking public comment on whether to continue to spare those products from the punitive tariffs, based on whether there are comparable US-made goods or whether the tariffs would cause “severe economic harm” to US interests.