American Chinese trade negotiators will have to take on the White House

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The big question is whether Trump will refrain from trade tensions pending a self-imposed 90-day clock that will expire at 12:01 on March 2 – or will do well to his threat to shift rates from 10% to 25% on $ 250 billion of Chinese goods.
Trump explained the accelerated timetable for negotiations after his meeting with Chinese president Xi Jinping in December during a break in trade enemies, but since then the China issue has been overshadowed by other concerns, including Trump's meeting with the North Korean dictator Kim next week. Young Un in Hanoi, Vietnam.

This week, the two parties are expected to work out a memorandum of understanding, according to the White House – an attempt the Chinese have not made in public comments.

In the run-up to the final round of pivotal trade talks, which will take place on the level of the main level on Thursday evening in Washington, Trump sent his strongest signal to date that the deadline of March 1 was not a magical date & # 39; , giving negotiators extra breathing space for scraping a deal.

"I can not tell you exactly about timing, but the date is not a magical date," Trump told the reporters Tuesday when Chinese negotiators arrived in Washington. "Many things can happen."

The Trump administration gave a notice in which the new tariff deadline was officially registered shortly after the president's dinner with Xi in Argentina in early December. But that time stamp could just as well be revised at the discretion of Trump.

"March 1 was always a random deadline," said Craig Allen, president of the US-China Business Council. "This is what the president is apparently considering."

The American trade representative Robert Lighthizer, finance minister Steven Mnuchin, Wilbur Ross, trade adviser to the White House, Larry Kudlow and trade adviser Peter Navarro will all be part of this week's talks with Chinese Vice Premier Liu He and his team.

Trump, a self-styled "tariff man", has made strategic use of imposing such economic penalties as leverage for China. He has repeatedly attributed his trade policy as the driving force for the economic pain that is the second largest economy in the world.

"The real question will be: will we increase the rates?" Trump said Tuesday. "I know that China would not like to let that happen, so I think they are trying to move quickly so that it does not happen, but we'll see what happens."

However, the sharper comments of the President can be seen as an even greater willingness of the United States to maintain pressure on China at the end of this month. It also entails the risk of eliminating the urgency that its main trade negotiators may need to bring Beijing to the table on even more difficult issues.

Lighthizer said that March 1 is a difficult deadline for escalating rates – if no deal is on the table.

"The deadline is March 1. That is the deadline," he said at the end of January, leaving aside any consideration of an extension. A spokesman for the American trade representative's office could not be reached immediately for comment from CNN.

On Wednesday, Rep. Asked. Richard Neal, a Massachusetts Democrat, the House Ways and Middles Committee chairman, Lighthizer to testify next week about the state of negotiations, days before the Trump government's deadline.

This week's talks focus on some of the heavier demands of the United States, including intellectual property rights, cybertheft and currency.

These problems are associated with complications that require significant changes in Chinese laws and regulations, along with careful examination of exact changes in Chinese legislation, according to US trade experts.

"Every word is important," Allen said. "For example, such a" course correction "is a very large undertaking and the negotiators must have all the time needed to tackle the problems in detail. & # 39;

Another major obstacle for the US is the conclusion of agreements with the Chinese about which enforcement mechanisms will be applied to the deal, including the reintroduction of tariffs. Top executives from the US, led by Lighthizer, have repeatedly insisted on an essential part of every agreement.

"Assuming that one is coming, it is difficult to anticipate how extensive each trade agreement with China could be, or how the business community and investors will respond," said David Joy, chief market strategist at Ameriprise, in a note customers. "But for now, both parties say that progress is being made, and that has led to an increase in sentiment."

That does not stop Trump from making the progress that the negotiators had in Beijing last week.

"Great progress is being made in so many different ways!" Trump tweeted Sunday after meeting with his trade team at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida.

CORRECTION: This story has been updated to accurately reflect the deadline set by Trump to impose new rates for Chinese goods.

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