A trade deal that could settle the monthslong trade dispute between the United States and China is reportedly in the works, with delegates from both countries sketching the broad outlines just one week before the crucial deadline.
According to Reuters, high-level officials from two of the world’s largest economies have scheduled talks on Thursday and Friday in Washington, D.C., where they intend to draw up six memoranda of understanding on structural issues, including China’s alleged forced technology transfers and cybertheft, as well as intellectual property rights, agriculture and the bilateral trade deficit.
This marks the most meaningful progress in the U.S.-China trade war, which has already seen tariffs imposed on $250 billion in Chinese imports and $110 billion in U.S. products.
Failure to strike a deal by March 1 would result in Washington increasing levies from 10 percent to 25 percent on $200 billion worth of Chinese goods.
On Tuesday, President Donald Trump doubled down on the possibility that he would push back the deadline as he considers scheduling a sit-down with Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping in the coming weeks. (The Trump-Xi powwow would then effectively act as the deadline for a trade accord.)
“They are very complex talks. They’re going very well,” Trump told a press pool in the Oval Office. “I can’t tell you exactly about timing, but the date is not a magical date. A lot of things can happen.”
Last week, both Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer expressed optimism after wrapping up the latest round of negotiations with Xi and Chinese Vice Premier Liu He.
Mnuchin called the meetings “productive,” while Lighthizer said that they “have additional work we have to do, but we are hopeful.”
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