The United States is willing to suspend the next round of tariffs on an additional US$300 billion of Chinese imports while Beijing and Washington prepare to resume trade negotiations.
The decision, which is still under consideration, may be announced after a meeting between Chinese President Xi Jinping and US counterpart Donald Trump on Saturday at the G20 summit in Japan.
A broad outline of the Trump-Xi agenda was discussed in a phone call on Monday between US trade representative Robert Lighthizer, and his counterpart in Beijing, Vice-Premier Liu He, China’s lead negotiator.
The US will not accept any further conditions on tariffs as part of reopening negotiations and no detailed trade deal is expected from the leaders’ summit, a senior administration official said on Tuesday. The Trump administration has said the goal of the meeting is to create a path forward for a trade agreement, after negotiations broke down last month.
The US is prepared to delay the new tariffs for the moment because Beijing would not have agreed to the meeting otherwise.
The talks between the leaders of the world’s two largest economies mark a critical juncture in their nearly year-old trade war, and both sides have plenty to lose if it escalates.
Trump is riding a strong economy and booming stock market into his re-election campaign. China’s economy has been slowing, and US tariffs are encouraging some foreign companies to shift production or plan investment elsewhere to avoid the higher costs.