WASHINGTON: US President Donald Trump said on Tuesday (Feb 12) he would consider extending the deadline for a trade deal with China beyond Mar 1.
"If we're close to a deal, where we think we can make a real deal ... I could see myself letting that slide for a little while," Trump told reporters at the White House.
But he added: "Generally speaking I'm not inclined to do that."
The comments came as the third round of trade negotiations were set to resume in Beijing to avert more than doubling tariffs on US$200 billion in Chinese imports.
"China wants to make a deal very badly," he said, and "things are going well" in the talks. And while no date has yet been agreed for a meeting with China's President Xi Jinping, he said he expects that to happen "at some point."
The high-stakes dispute has raised concerns it could spill over into the global economy after Trump last year hit China with 25 per cent punitive tariffs on US$50 billion in goods, and then imposed 10 per cent duties on another US$200 billion in annual imports.
The rate on all those imports are set to increase to 25 per cent if no agreement is reached by Mar 1.
China's economy already has shown signs of slowing, while the trade war has shaken the confidence of US businesses, as retaliatory tariffs have raised prices and helped choke off a key export market.
And Trump's aggressive strategy has failed to produce a reduction in the US trade deficit with China, which he set as a primary goal.
He repeated the incorrect statement that China is paying the duties, which in fact are paid by US companies importing goods.
And economists say much of the intended effect of the duties in reducing imports, has been offset by the devaluation of China's currency, which makes goods cheaper for importers.