Trump team has no plan to go to China for trade talks: official


David Lawder & Alexandra Alper, Reuters  

March 8, 2019


WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Trump administration officials have not made any new plans to send a team to China for face-to-face trade talks although there is much work left to be done to reach a deal, White House trade adviser Clete Willems said on Friday.


“We’re talking to them (Chinese officials) every day, but no one’s got any trip plans,” Willems told reporters on the sidelines of a Georgetown Law School event. When asked about the prospect for future face-to-face meetings, he said: “Maybe. But there are no plans right now.”


The governments of the world’s two largest economies have been locked in a tit-for-tat tariff battle for months as Washington presses Beijing to address long-standing concerns over Chinese practices and policies around industrial subsidies, technology transfers, market access and intellectual property rights.


Advances in talks drove the White House to indefinitely delay hikes in tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese imports that were set to kick in on March 2.


Willems said the two countries had made progress in talks but that there was still much more to be done. He declined to say whether Trump would set a new tariff deadline should the talks stall.


Members of Congress and the business community have expressed concerns that Trump is so eager for a deal ahead of presidential elections next year that he may accept an agreement that falls short of addressing key structural issues.


Willems pushed back against such concerns, saying the notion that Trump will settle for a “bad deal” is “totally inaccurate.”


U.S. Ambassador to China Terry Branstad told The Wall Street Journal on Friday that Washington and Beijing have yet to set a date for Trump to meet with Chinese President Xi Jinping - a sign that neither side sees a deal as imminent.


“Both sides agree that there has to be significant progress, meaning a feeling that they’re very close before that happens,” Branstad told the newspaper in Beijing...