Another person close to the talks confirmed that a partial deal had been reached.
Trump has announced that he will slap a 15 percent tariff on Dec. 15 on almost all remaining Chinese imports including consumer goods like laptops, smartphone, footwear and clothing — unless a deal can be reached with Beijing.
He added that there may be a roll back of duties Trump imposed on Sept. 1 but those discussions may wait for the next round.
But Scissors isn’t optimistic that the U.S. businesses will gain many concessions from Beijing.
“What the U.S. is getting is purchases and several elements of nonsense, which isn’t that bad for just putting off scheduled tariffs,” Scissors added. “All this is pending the president’s mood, of course. Today seems to be another ‘China Is Great’ day, but future talks face a higher risk.”
Expectations have been high that the two sides could announce some kind of mini deal that would delay a U.S. tariff increase set for next week.
Mnuchin said U.S. and Chinese officials “have had a productive two days of discussions“ but declined to confirm anything on the status of the talks.
“We will be meeting with the president shortly. We will be updating the president on those, he’ll then be meeting with the vice premier,” he said Friday afternoon during a press briefing threatening new sanctions on Turkey. “We’ll be making more announcements after we meet with the president.”
Liu on Friday morningwarmly greeted Lighthizer and Mnuchin outside the USTR building. Trump was also in an upbeat mood Friday, writing on Twitter: ” Good things are happening at China Trade Talk Meeting. Warmer feelings than in recent past, more like the Old Days. I will be meeting with the Vice Premier today. All would like to see something significant happen!”
Liu and Trump will meet this afternoon, and it’s likely that the details of any potential short-term agreement — if one is reached — would not be announced until after that event.
Trump on Friday also seemed to be taking a longer-term view, looking ahead to a day when he could sign a more comprehensive agreement — the kind of deal that would require negotiators to settle the tougher issues at the heart of the trade war. That type of deal — as long as it would not require changes to U.S. law — would not need congressional approval, unlike the new North American trade deal the Trump administration negotiated with Canada and Mexico last year.
“One of the great things about the China Deal is the fact that, for various reasons, we do not have to go through the very long and politically complex Congressional Approval Process,” Trump tweeted. ” When the deal is fully negotiated, I sign it myself on behalf of our Country. Fast and Clean!”
Optimism that the two sides are headed toward some sort of partial deal boosted Asian markets overnight and led U.S. markets to open more than 1 percent above Thursday’s close. The Dow Jones Industrial Average jumped 400 points by 1:30 p.m., while the broader Standard & Poor’s index also climbed 1.5 percent.
A deal to at least partially address U.S. concerns and provide more time for negotiations on harder issues would help Lighthizer, who turned 72 on Friday, focus his attention on other trade matters, such as finishing talks with Democrats on issues blocking congressional approval of the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement.
In another potential sign of progress, Chinese regulators announced earlier today that foreign financial services firms would be able to fully own futures trading companies in China beginning next year, China Daily reported.
Beijing also improved the mood for this week’s talks by stepping up purchases of U.S. agricultural goods. China previously had been a top market for U.S. farm exports, but sales have plummeted because of Chinese retaliation to tariffs that Trump began imposing in the summer of 2018.
The Agriculture Department reported Thursday that China bought 2.09 million metric tons of U.S. soybeans and 130,000 metric tons of U.S. wheat during the week of Sept. 27 to Oct. 3. Altogether, China has bought a total of 4.79 million metric tons of U.S. soybeans for delivery in the 2019-2020 marketing year, up sharply from just 1.08 million at the same point last year.
Beijing has also bought 142,000 tonnes of pork for delivery in 2019 and 2020, providing some relief to U.S. pork producers who also have been hit hard by the trade war, USDA said.
Still, a partial deal could carry political risk for Trump if the terms provide an opening for Democrats to accuse him of caving to Beijing. One particular area of concern is Huawei, the Chinese telecommunications giant currently subject to U.S. sanctions due to national security concerns.
“A China mini deal?” Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer wrote on Twitter. ” It must not include concessions on Huawei. That’s what China wants most, and it would show tremendous weakness.”