Trump: 'Phase one' of US-China trade deal 'ahead of schedule'

US President says accelerated signing of key portion of US-China trade pact is likely, but offers no exact timing.

    Trump said the pending phase one of a US-China trade pact would 'take care of the farmers' [File: Carlos Barria/Reuters]
    Trump said the pending phase one of a US-China trade pact would 'take care of the farmers' [File: Carlos Barria/Reuters]

    United States President Donald Trump said on Monday that he expected to sign a significant part of the trade deal with China ahead of schedule, but did not elaborate on the timing.

    "We are looking probably to be ahead of schedule to sign a very big portion of the China deal, we'll call it phase one but it's a very big portion," he told reporters at Joint Base Andrews in Maryland before leaving for a visit to Chicago.

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    Leaders of the world's two largest economies are working to agree on the text for a "phase one " trade agreement announced on October 11 by Trump, who has said he hopes to sign the deal with China's President Xi Jinping next month at a summit in Chile.

    Trump on Monday said the signing was planned for the summit, but made a reference to recent political unrest in Chile and said he believed they could work things out.

    The US president said the phase-one portion would "take care of the farmers" and "also take care of a lot of the banking needs".

    "So we're about I would say a little bit ahead of schedule maybe a lot ahead of schedule," he said.

    Agricultural products are a major area of discussion between the two countries.

    Beijing wants the US to cancel some existing US tariffs on Chinese imports, according to people briefed on high-level telephone discussions on Friday, in return for pledging to step up its purchases of US commodities such as soya beans.

    Washington wants Beijing to commit to buying these products at a specific time and price, while Chinese buyers would like the discretion to buy based on market conditions.

    Beijing and Washington are trying to calm a nearly 16-month trade war that is roiling financial markets, disrupting supply chains, hammering business investment and slowing global economic growth.

    Pressure is mounting from the international community for the two powers to work out their differences.

    Earlier this month, the International Monetary Fund forecast that fallout from the US-China trade war - and other trade disputes across the world - will slow global growth in 2019 to three percent, the slowest pace in a decade.

    Trump agreed earlier this month to cancel an October 15 increase in tariffs on $250bn in Chinese goods as part of a tentative agreement on agricultural purchases, increased access to China's financial services markets, improved protections for intellectual property rights and a currency pact.

    SOURCE: Reuters news agency