Trump Admits Failure in Forcing New Trade Deal on China

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Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and White House National Trade Council Director Peter Navarro (Photo: Reuters)

President Donald Trump has admitted his ill-advised gambit of trying to coerce China into a new trade deal favorable to the United States by March 1 has failed.

Trump yesterday said he could let the deadline for a trade agreement "slide for a little while," but didn't set any specific date for a new deadline. He said he would prefer not to set a new deadline but still expects to meet with President Xi Jinping to close the deal.

Trump's advisers previously told him March 1 was a "hard deadline" now impossible to meet. But Trump for the first time told reporters for the first time a delay was now possible.

U.S. businesses and lawmakers are urging a delay in the tariff increase while both sides tackle the tough Trump demands for major structural policy changes by China. They also want more time to solve the issue of ending the forced transfer of American trade secrets to China, curbing China's industrial subsidies and enforcing intellectual property rights.

Trump said last week he did not plan to meet with Xi before the March 1 deadline, said CNBC.

Trump has also moved the once "immovable" March 2 deadline for a new round of punitive tariffs on China to take effect to an unspecified later date. U.S. tariffs on $200 billion worth of imports from China will increase to 25 percent from 10 percent if China and the U.S. couldn't reach a deal by March 1.

As it stands today, the trade talks are an abject failure since both sides haven't even gotten to drafting even an accord specifying the matters they agree and disagree on.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, and a negotiating team are now in Beijing for another round of talks on Friday with Vice Premier Liu He, who paid Trump a visit in Washington last month.

White House economic advisor Larry Kudlow believes there is a "pretty sizable distance to go" before China and the U.S. reach a deal. Kudlow also thinks Trump is "optimistic with respect to a potential trade deal."

Ever the yes-man, Mnuchin said the talks have been "very productive," but admitted a "wide range of issues" have yet to be solved. Mnuchin previously said hopes for "productive" trade meetings in China this week but didn't explain what productive meant.

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