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Trump announces negotiations with China are ‘back on track’

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Donald Trump and Xi Jinping

President Donald Trump meets with Chinese President Xi Jinping in Osaka, Japan. | Susan Walsh/AP Photo

OSAKA, Japan — President Donald Trump said negotiations with China are “right back on track” after meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping on Saturday in Japan.

“We had a really good meeting,” Trump told reporters before talks with the Turkish president. “Perhaps better than expected.”

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The president did not specify whether he would pause his plan to impose additional tariffs on China, but Chinese state-run television was reporting that the U.S. would not impose any new duties on Chinese goods.

The two sides will pick up where talks left off in early May, when Trump accused China of backtracking on commitments it had made after months of talks.

Despite the friendly tone this weekend, the business sector — and the U.S. economy — is likely to still be on edge as tensions between Beijing and Washington can escalate in an instant if talks break down.

It remains unclear whether Trump will put a deadline for talks to wrap up. Last year, the president had set a 90-day deadline for China to meet a set of U.S. conditions to avoid additional U.S. tariffs, although that date was ultimately delayed. Ahead of the meeting, two sources had suggested a deadline of six months.

It is likely that both U.S. and Chinese officials are feeling pressure to resolve their ongoing differences soon. Any tariff increase on the remaining $300 billion in Chinese imports is expected to hit the pocketbooks of millions of consumers, especially lower-income voters who rely on cheap imports, going into the 2020 election.

And the trade war could slash one percentage point off China’s economic growth this year, a top Chinese party official had estimated in May.

U.S. officials said that a trade deal was “90 percent” completed in early May before Trump accused China of reneging on promises it made over months of talks.

The U.S. is pushing for structural changes to the Chinese economy on issues such as the transfer of proprietary technologies from U.S. companies doing business in China. A more challenging issue will be changing government subsidies and other advantages that Chinese companies and state-owned enterprises enjoy.

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