WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump said on Thursday he was open to a trade deal with China but was not sure he wanted one, as he headed to Argentina for the G20 summit and a meeting with President Xi Jingping.
FILE PHOTO: U.S. President Donald Trump and China’s President Xi Jinping arrive for a state dinner at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China, November 9, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
“I think we’re very close to doing something with China but I don’t know that I want to do it,” Trump told reporters as he left the White House to fly to the G20 summit in Argentina.
Trump and Xi were scheduled to meet on Saturday to discuss trade amid increasing tensions between the world’s top two economies.
Trump’s hardline trade adviser, Peter Navarro, will attend a meeting between Trump and Xi, a source familiar with the situation told Reuters.
Billions of dollars were coming into the United States, Trump said, because of the tariffs he has placed on Chinese imports.
However, U.S. companies and consumers are bearing part of the cost by paying higher prices for the goods.
“I really don’t know but I will tell you that I think China wants to make a deal. I’m open to making a deal. But frankly, I like the deal we have right now,” Trump said.
China, for its part, is hoping for “positive results” in resolving its trade dispute with the United States, the commerce ministry said on Thursday.
Asked if China was seeking to prevent the imposition of additional U.S. tariffs at the meeting, the ministry’s spokesman, Gao Feng, said economic teams from both nations were in contact to implement a “consensus” reached by Trump and Xi during a phone call this month.
“I hope that the United States and China could move towards each other and work hard to achieve positive results in the meeting,” Gao said without elaborating.
The United States has levied additional duties of between 10 percent and 25 percent on $250 billion of Chinese goods this year as punishment for what it calls China’s unfair trade practices, with the 10 percent tariffs set to climb to 25 percent next year.
A Reuters poll on Wednesday showed China’s factories likely struggled to grow for a second straight month in November as cooling demand at home and the threat of higher U.S. tariffs stifled new orders.
“The Chinese side has repeatedly stressed that the essence of Sino-U.S. economic and trade cooperation is about mutual benefit and win-win,” Gao said.
White House officials said this week Trump was open to making a trade deal with Xi when they meet.
In a Twitter post on Thursday, Trump said: “Billions of Dollars are pouring into the coffers of the U.S.A. because of the Tariffs being charged to China, and there is a long way to go. If companies don’t want to pay Tariffs, build in the U.S.A.”
Additional reporting by Doina Chaicu in Washington; Yawen Chen and Ryan Woo in Beijing; Editing by Bernadette Baum