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Negotiators extend US-China trade talks through the weekend

President Trump says there’s a “good chance” the United States strikes a trade deal with China, and he and President Xi could meet sometime next month.

“I would say it’s probably more likely that a deal does happen, but that doesn’t mean it’s going to happen,” said Trump.

After two days of high-level negotiations, President Trump met with China’s top negotiator, Liu He, in the oval office on Friday afternoon. The administration announced the Chinese delegation will stay in Washington through the weekend to continue negotiations.

“We have one time shot at making a great deal for both countries,” said Trump.

Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin suggested President Trump could meet with President Xi sometime in March, if negotiations go well over the next few days.

President Trump also told reporters if there is enough progress, he could extend the March 1 deadline, when tariffs are set to rise from 10% to 25%.

“I don’t think it would have to be a long term extension,” said President Trump.

This week the two countries have been working on multiple memorandums of understanding, addressing issues including intellectual property, technology transfer, currency and agriculture.

Mnuchin told reporters the two countries have come to an agreement on currency issues.

China has also agreed to buy more U.S. agricultural products. President Trump told reporters it will be the “biggest farm deal ever made.”

Robert Lighthizer, U.S. trade representative, second right, speaks as Wilbur Ross, U.S. Secretary of Commerce, from left, Steven Mnuchin, U.S. Treasury secretary, and Liu He, China's vice premier and director of the central leading group of the Chinese Communist Party, listen during a trade meeting in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Friday, Feb. 22, 2019. (Al Drago/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Craig Allen, President of the US-China Business Council told Yahoo Finance negotiators need to focus on issues like intellectual property, state-owned enterprises and cyber security.

“We think that obviously the trade deficit is an important issue. But really, the more important issue is the structural impediments within the Chinese economy that systemically disadvantage foreign competitors. And I would rush to add -- not only foreign competitors, but private sector Chinese competitors,” said Allen.

United States Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer said while progress has been made on structural issues, “very big hurdles” remain. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said he’s encouraged by this week’s negotiations, but “it’s a little early for champagne.”

In the oval office, President Trump reiterated that he and President Xi will be the ones to hammer out the final details of a deal.

William Reinsch, a former trade official and current Senior Adviser at Center for Strategic and International Studies, told Yahoo Finance that gives Chinese negotiators incentive to hold back some of their concessions until the two leaders meet.

“I suspect their main goal is defensive, you know, get through this by giving up as little as possible,” said Reinsch. “Negotiators aren’t tasked with finishing an agreement, they’re tasked with getting as close as they can.”

Lighthizer said negotiators will continue work in Washington all day Sunday and Saturday.


Jessica Smith is a reporter for Yahoo Finance based in Washington, D.C. Follow her on Twitter at @JessicaASmith8.

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