Trump says U.S. will hold off on new China tariffs 'for the time being' as trade talks resume

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President Trump spoke about four key issues at the G20 Summit in Osaka, Japan. USA TODAY

OSAKA, Japan — President Donald Trump and Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping agreed Saturday to resume high-level negotiations for a landmark new trade agreement, a development they hope will end a trade war has roiled markets and raised prices worldwide.

The new talks are designed “to see if we can make a deal,” Trump told reporters at the end of the G-20 summit in this historic port city.

Trump, who said he will hold off on new tariffs on China as talks progress “at least for the time being,” also announced that China agreed to buy more agriculture products from the United States.

Neither Trump nor China disclosed any concessions they might be willing to make in negotiations that have stalled in the past.

American farmers, a politically important group, have been hit particularly hard by the China trade war.

Also announcing plans to continue trade talks, the state-run news service Xinhua reported that “the U.S. side said it will not add new tariffs on Chinese exports. The two countries’ economic and trade negotiating teams will discuss specific issues.”

The announcements came after Trump and Xi sat down to re-start talks for a new agreement that could end the trade war between the world’s two largest economies.

“We’re totally open to it … I think this could be a very productive meeting,” Trump told Xi as they began their meeting on the sidelines of the G-20 summit in this ancient Japanese port city.

After the meeting, the president described talks with China as “right back on track” but did not confirm whether an agreement had been reached.

Xi called the talks a potential turning point in the U.S.-Chinese relationship, and told Trump that their two countries “benefit from cooperation and lose in confrontation. Cooperation and dialogue are better than friction and confrontation.”

Hours before his meeting with the Chinese leader, Trump and his aides expressed guarded optimism that the two nations — the largest economies in the world — could at least resume negotiations that broke off in May.

In the meantime, Trump said he is prepared to put more tariffs on Chinese goods if the Xi meeting doesn’t work out well. The Chinese said they are prepared to do much the same thing to American products.

“As to whether or not we can make a deal, time will tell,” Trump told reporters.

Noting that he saw Xi at a G-20 event Friday, Trump said “the relationship itself is really good,” and that he and the Chinese president “have a very good friendship, a very, very good friendship.”

For months, the two countries have taken turns hitting each other with tariffs, raising prices for producers and consumers and slowing growth worldwide.

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According to a study by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, tariffs set in 2018 “imposed an annual cost of $419 for the typical household.”

The latest Trump-Xi meeting takes place more than a month after U.S. and Chinese negotiators broke off trade talks, each side accusing the other of seeking to change the details at the last minute.

Now Trump and Xi hope to at least revive serious negotiations on a new arrangement between the global economic giants.

In remarks at the top of his meeting with Trump, Xi traced the up-and-down nature of the U.S.-Chinese relationship that he said began when an American table tennis team visited China for matches in 1971.

“That marked the beginning of what we now know as ping-pong diplomacy,” Trump said.

Trump cited more recent history, saying the U.S. and China were on the verge of a deal little more than a month ago, but then “something happened.”

“It would be historic if we could do a trade deal,” Trump said.

Throughout his presidential campaign and into his presidency, Trump has repeatedly accused China of taking advantage of, even “raping,” the United States with its trade policies.

The United States wants China to change some of its trade policies, particularly its demands that companies give up technology and trade secrets if they are to do business in the Middle Kingdom.

Xi, meanwhile, is making demands of his own. For one thing, he wants Trump to end his administration’s ban on sale of U.S. parts to Huawei Technologies Co., the Chinese telecommunications giant.

After meeting with Xi, Trump said he will decide what to do with Huawei toward “the end” of the negotiations.

In the run-up to the meeting, Chinese officials also said they want Trump to postpone the prospect of more tariffs for at least six months as talks continue. The United States is also seeking relief from Chinese tariffs.

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Trade isn’t the only item on the Trump-Xi agenda. There’s also North Korea.

Xi is expected to pitch a plan to revive U.S. negotiations with North Korea over the fate of its nuclear weapons programs.

After the end of the G-20 summit Saturday, Trump will travel to Seoul to meet with South Korean President Moon Jae-in — and possibly North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

Hours before the Xi meeting, Trump tweeted out an invitation to Kim to meet him at the Demilitarized Zone during his visit to Seoul.

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