U.S. officials closed out another week of trade negotiations with China on Thursday, with both sides signaling that progress is underway.
On Thursday, President Donald Trump told reporters that the talks are in their final stages, but gave no assurances on an exact timeline. “This is an epic deal, historic — if it happens,” he said. “We’ll see what happens.”
He had met with Chinese Vice Premier Liu He in the White House Oval Office to discuss the terms of the potential agreement, which would put an end to the ongoing trade standoff between the world’s two largest economies.
According to Chinese state news website Xinhua, Liu, who led the delegation to the U.S. capital, said a “new consensus” had been reached at the meeting and that both sides are working diligently toward an agreement that will benefit both countries as well as the world at large. Trump has said that he will hold a summit with Chinese president Xi Jinping when a deal is reached.
The tit-for-tat tariff battle between the two countries has rocked global markets and caused widespread disruption across many U.S. industries. While footwear and apparel have so far been exempt from any additional tariffs, leaders in the sector have condemned the trade war, saying it ultimately hurts both consumers and businesses.
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“It’s very difficult to see how [mounting tariffs] don’t negatively impact all Americans in every walk of life,” Footwear Distributors & Retailers of America president and CEO Matt Priest previously told FN. “The president claimed that trade wars are easy to win, but what our industry has always known is coming true: Trade wars are costly, unnecessary and do harm to the American economy.”
Around 72 percent of footwear sold in the U.S. comes from China, according to data from the American Apparel & Footwear Association, but companies are already shifting more of their manufacturing to countries like Vietnam and Indonesia. If uncertainty continues between the economic superpowers, it could expedite this process.
Already, the U.S. has imposed duties on $250 billion worth of Chinese goods, and China has retaliated with tariffs on $110 billion worth of American products. A temporary truce was called on Dec. 1, when the U.S. and China agreed not to levy any additional tariffs or raise existing ones while the two countries attempt to reach a deal. A previous deadline of March 1 was not met, but negotiations have continued in the weeks since.