US President Donald Trump (C) speaks between President of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker (L) and Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe as they attend a meeting on the digital economy at the G20 Summit in Osaka yesterday (AFP)
OSAKA (REUTERS) - U.S. President Donald Trump yesterday said he hoped for productive talks with Chinese President Xi Jinping on a trade war that is casting a shadow on global growth, but said he had not made any promises about a reprieve from escalating tariffs.
The trade feud and signs of a global slowdown has loomed over a two-day Group of 20 (G20) summit in the Japanese city of Osaka, where Trump and Xi met in passing, and prepared for one-on-one talks on Saturday.
To lay the groundwork for the talks, Chinese Vice Premier Liu He met Trump’s treasury secretary, Steven Mnuchin, and Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer at the hotel where the U.S. delegation was staying, a source familiar with the talks said.
China has said it hoped the United States would meet halfway on the issues.
The world’s two biggest economies are locked in a trade dispute and expectations have dimmed that Trump and Xi can ease tension when they meet on the sidelines of the meeting.
“At a minimum it will be productive. We’ll see what happens and what comes out of it,” Trump told reporters after a series of meetings with leaders where he made clear that his priority was two-way trade deals to boost the U.S. economy.
Asked, however, if he had promised Xi a six-month reprieve on imposing new tariffs on a US$300 billion list of Chinese imports, Trump said: “No.”
Trump has already imposed tariffs on US$250 billion of Chinese imports and is threatening to extend those to another US$300 billion of goods, effectively everything China exports to the United States. China has retaliated with tariffs on U.S. imports.
Asian shares stumbled and gold slipped on Friday, as doubts grew that the highly anticipated meeting between the two leaders would bring progress in resolving their dispute.
In Beijing, foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said he hoped the U.S. side could meet China halfway.
“This accords with the interests of both countries and is what the international community is hoping for,” he told a news briefing.
Trump’s administration also has trade feuds with India, Japan and Germany, whose leaders he met yesterday.
Trump said he saw U.S. trade prospects improving, days after criticizing the U.S.-Japan security treaty and demanding that India withdraw retaliatory tariffs.
“I think we’re going to have some very big things to announce. Very big trade deal,” Trump said before he began talks with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, but gave no details.
A White House official said the two leaders had called on their teams to work on mutually beneficial trade solutions.
Trump also made a push to discuss U.S. concerns about Chinese telecoms equipment maker Huawei.
The United States has pressed its allies to shun Huawei in their fifth generation, or 5G, networks on security grounds, and it has also suggested it could be a factor in a trade deal with Xi.
Several leaders warned that the growing trade friction was threatening global growth.
“The trade relations between China and the United States are difficult, they are contributing to the slowdown of the global economy,” European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker told a news conference.
Xi also warned about the protectionist steps he said some developed countries were taking.
“All this is destroying the global trade order. This also impacts common interests of our countries, overshadows peace and stability worldwide,” Xi told a gathering of leaders of the BRICS grouping on the sidelines of the G20 meet.