Trump says no immediate plan to meet Chinese leader on trade

US President Donald Trump and China's President Xi Jinping meet business leaders in Beijing China on Nov 9 2017

On Thursday, U.S. President Donald Trump announced that he has no intention to meet with Chinese President Xi Jinping before the March 1st deadline by which the two countries must reach a trade deal. While being asked whether there would be a meeting in a near-term outlook (in the next month or so), Trump appeared to be baffling when responding, "Not yet". Maybe. Probably too soon.

The two sides have three weeks before U.S. duty rates on many Chinese goods are due to jump sharply, which economists say could further weaken the global economy.

Negotiations between Chinese and USA officials are still continuing, The New York Times reported. Another round of talks is scheduled for next week in Beijing.

In a meeting at the White House on Wednesday, Mr Trump's trade team discussed the next steps for the trade talks, according to a person briefed on the matter.

Trump has said that final resolution of the trade dispute would depend on him and Xi meeting "in the near future".

"There was concern about the downside for markets in particular if they don't reach a deal", the source said.

The President is headed to Asia to meet North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Vietnam on Feb 27 and 28.

Larry Kudlow, White House economic adviser, told reporters that the two leaders could still meet at a later date.

Trump claims that he is in a warm relationship with the Chinese president. "But that is off in the distance still, at the moment", he told reporters. President Trump has repeatedly threatened increasing tariffs on various Chinese goods imported to the United States if the two sides do not broker a permanent deal to end the standoff. The Kospi in South Korea declined 1.2 per cent to 2,177.05 and Australia's S&P ASX 200 was down 0.3 per cent at 6,071.50. U.S. Treasury bond yields also dropped following the move of investors in securing their safety in sovereign U.S. debt. The benchmark 10-year yield slid four basis points to 2.66 percent, the lowest in almost a week.

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Last week, Chinese and USA negotiators said they made "important progress", China's state media reported following the conclusion of two days of high-level talks in Washington, DC.

"They're hoping for more success", he said.

Asian stocks tumbled Friday on worries the USA and China won't reach an agreement.

Early on Friday, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said that the U.S. -Sino trade tensions could negatively impact her country's economy and hurt exporters, as China is New Zealand's top trade partner, generating NZ$16.6 billion in the 12-months prior to September 2018 (more than double the country's sales to the U.S.). China denies the accusations.

What happens to tariff rates on March 2 remains unclear.

Such reforms have been a sticking point in talks so far.

Asked whether there could be a meeting with Xi around March, Trump said, "Not yet".

While the United States has said it is a hard deadline for the tariffs, Mr Trump has also suggested he could agree to extend negotiations beyond the month's end if progress is made.

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