By Jeff Mason and David Lawder
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Donald Trump said on Sunday he would delay an increase in U.S. tariffs on Chinese goods scheduled for later this week thanks to progress in trade talks and said if progress continued, he and Chinese President Xi Jinping would seal a deal.
Trump had planned to increase tariffs to 25 percent from 10 percent on $200 billion (£153.1 billion) worth of Chinese imports into the United States if a deal were not reached by Friday between the world’s two largest economies.
The president said in a tweet that progress had been made on a host of divisive areas including intellectual property protection, technology transfers, agriculture, services and currency.
As a result of the talks, he said: “I will be delaying the U.S. increase in tariffs now scheduled for March 1. Assuming both sides make additional progress, we will be planning a Summit for President Xi and myself, at Mar-a-Lago, to conclude an agreement. A very good weekend for U.S. & China!”
Mar-a-Lago is the president’s property in Florida, where the two men have met before.
The delay in tariffs was the clearest sign yet of a breakthrough the two sides have sought since calling a 90-day truce in a trade war last year. It will likely be cheered by markets as a sign of an end to the dispute that has disrupted commerce worth hundreds of billions of dollars of goods and slowed global economic growth.
During talks that extended into the weekend, U.S. and Chinese negotiators were discussing on Sunday the thorny issue of how to enforce a potential trade deal after making progress on other structural issues, according to a source familiar with the talks.
The two sides were discussing tariffs on Sunday as well as commodities, the source said.
U.S. officials said on Friday that talks would extend into the weekend after negotiators produced a deal on currency during talks last week.
Negotiators were seeking to iron out differences on changes to China’s treatment of state-owned enterprises, subsidies, forced technology transfers and cyber theft.
The two sides have been negotiating an enforcement mechanism. Washington wants a strong mechanism to ensure that Chinese reform commitments were followed through to completion, while Beijing insisted on what it called a “fair and objective” process. Another source briefed on the talks said that enforcement remained a major sticking point as of Saturday.
Trump said on Friday there was a “good chance” a deal would emerge, and foreshadowed that he might extend the March 1 deadline and move forward with a meeting with Xi.
(Reporting by Jeff Mason and David Lawder; Additional reporting by Rajesh Kumar Singh and Howard Schneider; Editing by Peter Cooney)