President Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping spoke over the phone Saturday. Trump confirmed the conversation via Twitter, while Xi Jinping’s presence on the line was confirmed by Chinese state media.
“Just had a long and very good call with President Xi of China,” Trump wrote on Twitter on Saturday morning. “Deal is moving along very well. If made, it will be very comprehensive, covering all subjects, areas and points of dispute. Big progress being made!” According to Reuters, Chinese media says Xi hopes the two countries can meet in the middle.
A trade war has dominated U.S.-China relations for much of this year and caused billions of dollars in economic losses for both countries.
Earlier this month, Trump and Xi Jinping had dinner at the Group of 20 summit and reached a truce. As NPR’s Rob Schmitz reported, U.S. tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese imports, which were scheduled to increase to 25 percent on Jan. 1 have remained at 10 percent as a result of that temporary truce. In exchange, The New York Times reported, China agreed to buy American agricultural and energy products. But Trump could increase tariffs to 25 percent if a deal is not made by a March deadline.
“At the end of 90 days, these tariffs will be raised … if we don’t get a satisfactory solution,” U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer told CBS’ Face The Nation about the truce. “If there is a deal to be done, we’ll make it. The president wants us to make a deal. But as you say, it has to be verifiable. It has to be monitored. It can’t be just vague promises like we’ve seen over the last 25 years.”
Saturday’s call seems to be one part of what Lighthizer told Face The Nation are “ongoing” conversations and efforts toward that broad deal.
Erin Ennis, senior vice president of the U.S.-Chinese Business Council, told NPR’s Steve Inskeep that the major U.S. economic concerns with regards to China are intellectual property rights protection and technology transfer policies. “Until those issues get addressed, it’s difficult to see what the pathway is to reducing the tariffs.”