US said to ready final China trade deal

Trade representative Robert Lighthizer (Bloomberg pic)

WASHINGTON: US officials are preparing a final trade deal that President Donald Trump and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping could sign in weeks, people familiar with the matter said, even as debate continues in Washington over whether to push Beijing for more concessions.

The US is eyeing a summit between the two presidents as soon as mid-March, said one of the people, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the preparations are confidential.

The planning has been complicated by Xi’s need to lead China’s annual National People’s Congress in early March, as well as make other foreign trips, the people said.

A White House spokesman didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

Trump will have the final call on the US side. At a summit in Vietnam this week with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, the US president showed he’s willing to walk away if he doesn’t like the terms on the table, including with China.

Talks with North Korea broke down after Trump refused to lift sanctions on the country, he said.

“Speaking of China we’re very well on our way to doing something special.

But we’ll see,” Trump said at a press conference in Hanoi on Thursday. “I am always prepared to walk.

I’m never afraid to walk from a deal, and I would do that with China, too, if it didn’t work out.”