Trump weighs extending China tariff deadline by 60 days

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USA and Chinese negotiators are meeting this week for their final trade talks before President Donald Trump decides whether to escalate a dispute over technology with a March 2 tariff hike on $200 billion of imports from China.

The US and China have been locked in a trade war since last summer, when Mr Trump, 72, imposed import tariffs on Chinese goods worth hundreds of billions of dollars, prompting China to respond in kind.

A USA delegation, including Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, arrived in Beijing this week for the latest round of closed-door trade talks.

Chinese President Xi Jinping plans to meet with the United States officials in Beijing this week, a report in the South China Morning Post said Wednesday, bolstering hopes for the talks and world markets.

China's trade surplus with the United States narrowed in January even as its American imports plunged, buffeted by a slowing economy and the tariff battle with Washington, official data showed Thursday. He is considering pushing the deadline back an additional 60 days, Bloomberg News reported, citing sources.

Chinese staffers adjust a US flag before the opening session of trade negotiations between USA and Chinese trade representatives at the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse in Beijing, Thursday, Feb. 14, 2019.

Expectations for a trade deal have grown as China faces pressure from slowing economic growth, and as swooning global markets rattle Trump and his economic advisors.

Mr Trump has indicated he is flexible to the March 1 deadline, suggesting he would let the date "slide for a little while" if a deal was in sight but would prefer not to do so.

Trump's economic advisor Larry Kudlow had earlier said Xi's willingness to meet was a "very good sign".

Indian soldiers killed, 35 wounded by vehicle bomb in Kashmir
Australian prime minister Scott Morrison has also decried the attack and offered condolences to the families of the dead soldiers. Tension with Pakistan rose after that incident when New Delhi said the attackers had come from Pakistan to stage the attack.

"From their point of view, they would have dodged a bullet", Green, who was USTR's top official at the USA embassy in Beijing until mid-2018, told Reuters.

Trump has said he did not expect to meet with Xi before March 1, but White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders has raised the possibility of a meeting between the leaders at the president's Mar-a-Lago retreat in Florida.

"If we're close to a deal, where we think we can make a real deal".

The United States accuses China of a range of unfair practices, including erecting myriad barriers to accessing its market and systemic theft of U.S. intellectual property.

The Chinese government has offered few details about the state of negotiations this week.

Customs data on Thursday showed exports rose 9.1 percent from a year earlier to $217.6 billion, an improvement from December's 3.5 percent contraction.

As for the tone/sentiment, the report states that "it wasn't immediately clear if there was progress in resolving any of the thorny issues separating the two sides".

January cargoes were the second-highest monthly total on record and on an annualized basis concentrate imports could exceed 22m tonnes in 2019, beating the record set past year of 19.7m tonnes.

China has also offered to sharply increase purchases of USA soybeans and other farm and energy commodities to help cut the US trade deficit, which exceeded $382 billion in 2018.