Trump, US trade negotiators talk strategy as China tariffs loom

New levies are set to hit Chinese goods on Sunday, Dec. 15

President Trump and U.S. trade negotiators are scheduled to meet at the White House on Thursday to finalize their plan for new China tariffs set to take effect this weekend.

The U.S. is scheduled to impose 15 percent duties on $160 billion of Chinese consumer products such as smartphones, laptops, other electronics and clothes. The American trade team has given no indication they plan to postpone the levies, despite speculation to the contrary amid ongoing talks with Beijing. Team members have insisted the tariffs are set to hit at 12:01 a.m. ET on Dec. 15.


Meeting with Trump will be U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross and White House advisers Larry Kudlow and Peter Navarro.

They're expected to give differing views on what to do about the tariffs, which would escalate a trade war that business leaders are eager to end. After the levies were announced, Beijing threatened to respond by adding tariffs of 5 percent and 10 percent on $75 billion of U.S. products.

Still, Chinese President Xi Jinping has taken a number of steps to show good faith as negotiations on a broad trade agreement progress, including waiving its tariffs on U.S. soybeans and pork and ramping up purchases of the former.

While China has insisted that the U.S. roll back previously-imposed duties on billions of dollars in goods, Trump has said that's not something he's interested in doing.

There are signs that the two economic superpowers are moving closer to a partial trade deal, however. Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, told FOX Business’ Maria Bartiromo on Wednesday that he doesn’t think the tariffs will hit Chinese goods on Sunday.


“A conversation I had Monday, that I won’t say who it was with, didn’t deal with tariffs, but it would tell me that tariffs will not be imposed on Dec. 15, and we could possibly be close to an agreement with China,” he said.