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Trump and China’s Xi Jinping expected to meet, sign major trade deal at APEC next month

From left, China's President Xi Jinping and U.S. President Donald Trump shake hands on Nov. 9, 2017, during a meeting outside the Great Hall of the People in Beijing. (Artyom Ivanov/Tass/Abaca Press/TNS)
October 29, 2019

U.S. President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping are expected to meet at Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit next month and may sign a new trade agreement.

The news of the expected meeting and subsequent deal were first reported by South China Morning Post, citing an anonymous source familiar with plans of the meeting, who said an interim deal would be signed on Nov. 17 “if everything goes smoothly.”

A Trump administration official later told Reuters that the date is not yet set in stone, but remarked on the positive progress being made in negotiations between the U.S. and China.

“If it’s not signed in Chile, that doesn’t mean that it falls apart. It just means that it’s not ready,” a Trump administration official told Reuters. “Our goal is to sign it in Chile. But sometimes texts aren’t ready. But good progress is being made and we expect to sign the agreement in Chile.”

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer spoke with China’s Vice Premier Liu He on Friday, resulting in what was reported as a positive meeting.

Another administration official called the potential deal a “phase-one agreement.”

“As the President said several weeks ago, we have reached a phase-one agreement with the Chinese and both sides are working to finalize the text for a signing in Chile,” a White House source told Fox Business. It’s unclear if the agreement will be ready to sign in Chile, but the sides are expected to work towards that goal.

On Monday, Trump also referred to the “phase-one” negotiations and indicated an agreement could soon be reached.

“We are looking probably to be ahead of schedule to sign a very big portion of the China deal, and we’ll call it Phase One but it’s a very big portion,” Trump said, according to Politico.

“So we’re about, I would say, a little bit ahead of schedule, maybe a lot ahead of schedule,” Trump added. “Probably, we’ll sign it.”

Trump indicated that the deal would benefit farmers, the banking industry, and other industries.

The U.S. and China have been embattled in a trade war since summer 2018 and have been raising tariffs on one another’s goods.

However, after U.S. farmers suffered a blow from the trade wars – due to China being a top buyer of U.S. agricultural goods – the Trump administration repositioned and secured an agreement for China to purchase $40-$50 billion farm goods in exchange for halting Oct. 15 tariff hikes.