WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump said his administration was “making a lot of progress” with China on Friday, as deputy-level trade talks continued for a second day and Washington lifted tariffs on over 400 Chinese products.
Trump, speaking to reporters at a White House meeting with Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison, said the United States was taking in billions of dollars from tariffs imposed on Chinese products, adding that the total would soon reach $100 billion.
Talks were going well, though, he indicated. “I will say this: we’re making a lot of progress with China,” the Republican president said.
China agreeing to more agricultural purchases would not be enough, he said. “We’re looking for a complete deal. I’m not looking for a partial deal,” he said, adding that he did not need a deal to happen before the 2020 presidential election.
The Trump administration and China’s Communist Party remain far apart on issues that are the basis of their trade dispute, including the U.S. declaring some Chinese state companies national security risks, and Beijing’s refusal to revamp its economic model by eliminating subsidies for state companies.
The United States Trade Representative’s office issued three Federal Register notices exempting a wide range of products from tariffs in response to requests from U.S. companies, which argued that the levies would cause economic hardship.
The 437 exempted products range from printed circuit boards for computer graphics processors to dog collars, laminated wood flooring and miniature Christmas lights.
Chinese and U.S. negotiators are holding two days of talks that were expected to focus heavily on agriculture, and lay the groundwork for high-level talks in early October that would determine whether the two countries are working toward a solution or headed for new and higher tariffs on each other’s goods.
A delegation of about 30 Chinese officials, led by Vice Finance Minister Liao Min, met counterparts at the U.S. Trade Representative’s (USTR) office near the White House. Deputy USTR Jeffrey Gerrish led the U.S. delegation.
The United States is asking that China substantially increase purchases of American soybeans and other farm commodities, a person with knowledge of the planned discussions told Reuters.
Chinese delegates will visit American farm regions with U.S. officials next week, in a gesture of goodwill.
Trade experts, executives and government officials in both countries say that even if the September and October talks produce an interim deal, the U.S.-China trade war has hardened into a political and ideological battle that runs far deeper than tariffs and could take years to resolve.
At the White House, Australia’s Morrison said a U.S.-China deal would put global trade on a stronger footing.
Observers in Beijing said the new tariff exemptions were a welcome sign, but the trade talks remain on a delicate footing.
The exemptions are “seen as a goodwill signal by China,” Hu Xijin, editor of the influential state-run tabloid Global Times, said Friday on Twitter. “Interaction of goodwill between China and the U.S. is still fragile.”