President Trump said the U.S. and China are seeking a new site where he and President Xi Jinping can sign "phase one" of a trade deal despite reports that Beijing is increasingly dubious about a long-term agreement with the current White House.
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Trump's reputation for impulsive behavior has given Xi's government pause, Bloomberg News says, and Beijing is reluctant to concede on some of the biggest issues dividing the two countries lest Trump back out of even the incremental pact under consideration.
Trump and Xi had planned to sign what might be the first of several components of a trade deal at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in mid-November, but Chile said Wednesday it could no longer host the event because of anti-government protests.
"China and the USA are working on selecting a new site for signing of Phase One of Trade Agreement, about 60% of total deal, after APEC in Chile was canceled," Trump tweeted. "President Xi and President Trump will do signing!"
White House Deputy Press Secretary Hogan Gidley remained optimistic about negotiations on Thursday, telling FOX Business' Maria Bartiromo that deputy-level talks are happening every day.
"While APEC was canceled yesterday, it has not negatively impacted our conversations with China at all," Gidley said Thursday. White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow told Gidley the talks "are going very smoothly," he added.
Chinese Vice Premier Liu He is expected to speak by phone with U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin on Friday, Gidley said.
White House trade official Peter Navarro has previously said the deal would have three phases.