US President Donald Trump and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping are likely to meet in Japan next month during the G20 economic summit amid rising trade tensions between the world’s two largest economies, a senior White House official has said.
There is a “strong possibility” that the two presidents will hold talks on the sidelines of the conference in Osaka, Efe news quoted White House chief economic advisor Larry Kudlow as saying during a TV programme on Fox News on Sunday.
Negotiators failed last week to reach an agreement to end the trade war that began in 2018 with Trump’s decision to impose a 10 percent tariff on $200 billion worth of goods from China, which retaliated with levies on $60 billion worth of US products.
“There were constructive conversations,” US Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin told reporters last Friday as his bid farewell to Chinese Vice Premier Liu He, the leader of the delegation that traveled from Beijing to Washington for the two-day round.
At 12.01 am last Friday, between the first and second sessions of those talks, the US raised the tariffs on affected Chinese imports from 10 per cent to 25 per cent.
“China deeply regrets that it will have to take necessary countermeasures,” the Chinese government said in a statement after the higher tariffs took effect.
Though both sides spoke of their readiness to continue the negotiations, Mnuchin acknowledged Friday that no further talks were scheduled.
Hours after Liu left Washington, Trump announced that he had ordered US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer to draw up plans to extend tariffs to an additional $300 million worth of Chinese imports.
Kudlow said Sunday that while there were “no concrete, definite plans” for the resumption of discussions, the Chinese have invited Mnuchin and Lighthizer to Beijing.
“The talks will continue,” Kudlow told Fox’s Chris Wallace. “I will say this: There is a G20 meeting in Japan toward the end of June next month and the chances that President Trump and President Xi will get together at that meeting are pretty good.”
“We were moving well, constructive talks – and I still think that’s the case,” Kudlow said. “But the problem is, two weeks ago in China, there was backtracking by the Chinese.”
The Trump administration increased the tariffs because Beijing was resisting the idea of enshrining in Chinese law some of the concessions Beijing has offered, such as measures to respect the intellectual property of US firms operating in China, the White House adviser said.
“Things seemed to be taking too long, and we can’t accept any backtracking,” Kudlow said on Fox. “We don’t think the Chinese have come far enough, we will wait and see.”