US, China trade deal expected before tariff increase: Report

Trump's 'off the cuff' comments not a sign talks are at an impasse

The U.S. and China are moving full speed ahead with their efforts to secure a partial trade deal before tariffs are set to rise on Chinese goods on Dec. 15, according to a report. Stock futures rallied ahead of the opening bell.

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President Trump’s comments Tuesday, which downplayed the possibility of a trade deal being reached in the next couple of weeks, were “off the cuff” and should not be taken as a sign that talks are at an impasse, Bloomberg reports, citing people familiar with the matter. U.S. negotiators still expect a phase one deal to be reached before the tariff increase.

The two sides, according to the Bloomberg report, are still in talks over the number of tariffs that will be rolled back as part of an agreement.

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Beijing has called on the U.S. to roll back all of the more than $350 billion of tariffs placed on its goods as part of a deal. Trump has said he has no intention of doing so.

The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative did not immediately respond to FOX Business’ request for comment.

Markets were roiled Tuesday, posting their biggest drop in two months, after Trump said a phase one deal may not happen until after the 2020 election.

“In some ways, I like the idea of waiting until after the election for the China deal, but they want to make a deal now and we’ll see whether the deal’s gonna be right – it’s gotta be right,” Trump told reporters in London, where he was attending a NATO summit, adding that he has “no deadline” to complete an agreement.

Chinese negotiators are hoping to avoid the wrath of more tariffs on Dec. 15, when the U.S. is expected to raise levies on about $156 billion of Chinese goods.

The tariffs have been a burden on the Chinese economy, which is also struggling under the weight of growing debt levels. China’s economy grew at a 6 percent rate in the third quarter, the weakest since record keeping began in 1993.

Trade talks are not expected to be impacted by two measures recently initiated by Congress.

On Tuesday, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill that would impose sanctions on Chinese officials who were responsible for human rights abuses against Muslim minorities. In response, China has threated to place sanctions on U.S. companies.

Last week, Trump signed a bill that would require the U.S. placing sanctions on Chinese officials linked to human rights abuses in Hong Kong.

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“The China trade deal is dependent on one thing: 'Do I want to make it?'” Trump said Tuesday. “Cause we’re doing very well with China right now, and we can do even better with the flick of a pen.”