With APEC Summit Canceled, Trump-Xi Trade Meeting Hangs in the Balance

The leaders of the world’s two largest economies will have to find another venue where they can ink a “phase one” trade deal after Chile’s president canceled a planned summit scheduled for mid-November.

U.S. President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping were set to meet during the two-day Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit starting Nov. 16 to formally sign off on a plan that would amount to a tentative truce to their ongoing tariffs dispute. However, following Chilean President Sebastian Piñera’s cancellation of the event due to protests following a proposed hike in Chile’s public transportation fares, Trump wrote on Twitter that the two countries are in the midst of selecting a new location for an upcoming meeting.

“The new location will be announced soon,” he said in a post this morning. “President Xi and President Trump will do [the] signing!”

Three weeks ago, the U.S. leader met with Chinese Vice Premier Liu He, leading the two countries to agree to a “phase one” deal that includes China’s purchase of $40 billion to $50 billion worth of American agricultural products as well as guidelines on intellectual property. It paused Trump’s planned tariff increase on Oct. 15, which would have boosted to 30% the existing duty of 25% already in place on $250 billion worth of Chinese goods.

Since reaching the partial trade agreement in mid-October, Trump has been touting the size of his “phase one” deal, calling it “substantial.” Today, the U.S. leader wrote that “phase one” represents “about 60% of [the] total deal.” The limited agreement is said to lay the groundwork for a comprehensive deal that could potentially put an end to the more-than-yearlong trade war.

In a statement, White House deputy press secretary Hogan Gidley wrote, “We look forward to finalizing ‘phase one’ of the historic trade deal with China within the same time frame, and when we have an announcement, we’ll let you know.” China’s Commerce Ministry added, “The two sides are going to continue pushing negotiations and other work as originally planned.”

Over the past year and a half, the U.S. and China have imposed new duties on billions of dollars in imports coming from both countries. On Sept. 1, Washington hit Beijing with a 15% levy on $112 billion worth of goods, the first portion of the fourth tranche of tariffs set to be implemented by the U.S. China retaliated by slapping American products with new duties that range from 5% to 10%. Tariffs on the remaining goods — for a total of roughly $300 billion worth of goods, representing the complete fourth tranche — are expected to take effect on Dec. 15.

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