China Trade Talks to Enter a More Serious Phase Next Week

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Trump has vowed to increase US tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese imports to 25 percent from 10 percent now if the two sides can not reach a deal by 12:01 a.m. (0501 GMT) on March 2.

A senior Trump administration official said Trump and Xi may meet shortly after March 2, CNBC said. However, a trade war is likely to escalate between the countries. Despite Trump's tormenting comments, which excruciated the financial market atmosphere and added new worries to the existing global slowdown and geopolitical tensions, White House Economic Adviser Larry Kudlow told the reporters on Thursday (February 7th), that, the leaders of the two economic superpowers might have still met at a later date. "But that is off in the distance still at the moment".

Secretary Steven Mnuchin added that "there's nothing planned at this time for [a meeting], but the president has talked about potentially meeting with President Xi and we'll see what progress we make next week".

Mnuchin and US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer are set to meet their Chinese counterparts next week for trade talks. "We need an agreement at the end of the 90-day period that specifically rescinds the tariff that China has imposed on USA soybean imports".

The S&P 500 Index market worth dropped by 0.93 percent, the biggest drop in 2 weeks. Treasury bond yields dropped as investors sought safety in sovereign US debt.

A meeting between the two leaders, which was announced last week after two days of trade talks in Washington, was originally expected to take place at the end of this month, close to Trump's second summit meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in Vietnam.

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Both Trump and his top trade negotiator, Robert Lighthizer, have said that the March 2 deadline is a firm date and that the U.S. will not extend the timeline, which the two Presidents agreed upon during the G20 Summit in Argentina a year ago.

Time is running out for the United States and China to reach an agreement before the deadline the Trump administration has set to more than double tariffs on US$200 billion (S$271 billion) of Chinese goods.

Last week, at the end of the two days of talks, Trump said in a tweet: "No final deal will be made until my friend President Xi, and I, meet in the near future to discuss and agree on some of the long standing and more hard points".

Also pressuring markets was a report out Thursday that President Trump is planning to sign an executive order next week which would ban Chinese telecommunications equipment from USA wireless networks.

China has retaliated with tariffs of its own, but has suspended some and is allowing some purchases of United States soybeans during the talks.