Trump says could let deadline for inking trade deal with China slide

Containers are seen at the Yangshan Deep Water Port in Shanghai China

"We're looking forward to several important days of talks", Mnuchin said to reporters.

U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer arrived in the Chinese capital on Tuesday ahead of high-level trade talks scheduled this week for the world's two largest economies to hammer out a deal ahead of a March 1 deadline.

USA tariffs on $200 billion worth of imports from China are scheduled to rise to 25 percent from 10 percent if the two sides can not reach a deal by the deadline, increasing pain and costs in sectors from consumer electronics to agriculture. He did not elaborate.

The world's two largest economies are trying to hammer out a deal before a March 1 deadline, after which USA tariffs on US$200 billion (S$271 billion) worth of Chinese imports are scheduled to increase to 25 per cent from 10 per cent.

Trump's advisers have previously described March 1 as a "hard deadline", but Trump told reporters for the first time that a delay was now possible.

The White House said there would be a preparatory meeting of senior officials beginning February 11 and the talks would include officials from the Agriculture, Energy and Commerce Departments.

While those purchases will provide relief to USA farmers, there has been no breakthrough on the structural issues separating the two nations, such as industrial policy, government subsidies, protection of intellectual property or forced transfers of technology. A round of talks at the end of January ended with some progress reported - but no deal and US declarations that much more work was needed.

President Trump has also said he's unlikely to meet President Xi Jinping before the deadline, dampening hopes of a speedy resolution.

Treasury's Mnuchin and United States trade representative, Robert Lighthizer, would be participating in the high level trade talk in Beijing, which would unlikely to bear fruit, since all the China had been doing after the trade truce, was talking about purchasing more U.S. goods, evading the IP rights talks, which USA claimed "not enough" for getting a trade deal done last week.

Facing an economic slowdown at home, the Chinese government has a strong motivation to address American demands and put an end to the trade war.

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