A meeting between presidents Donald Trump of the U.S. and Xi Jinping of China to iron out and sign a new trade deal won’t happen this month, and will instead occur in April at the earliest, according to the latest reports.
Claims of progress on a new trade deal have come from both sides, but a summit at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort will now take place at the end of April — if it happens at all.
According to a Bloomberg report, there are still “major issues” to resolve, and China is pressing for a formal state visit rather than a low-key appearance just to sign a new trade deal.
Xi’s staff have scrapped planning for a potential flight to the U.S. following a trip to Europe later this month, a separate person said. The people asked not to be named as the details are private.
U.S. stock index futures dropped on the news. China’s offshore yuan extended its drop to as much as 0.51 percent, the most since Feb. 1.
U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer this week pointed to “major issues” still unresolved in the talks, with few signs of a breakthrough on the most difficult subjects including treatment of intellectual property. Chinese officials have also prickled at the appearance of the deal being one-sided, and are wary of the risk of Trump walking away even if Xi were to travel to the U.S.
White House communications staff didn’t immediately respond to an early morning request for comment. The State Council in Beijing also didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.
Trump himself has shifted tone in recent days, walking back from a more urgent approach to getting a deal signed as early as March. He acknowledged concerns in Beijing about the possibility of him walking away from a trade deal, offering to push back a summit with Xi until a final deal is reached.
“We could do it either way,” Trump told reporters Wednesday at the White House. “We can have the deal completed and come and sign or we can get the deal almost completed and negotiate some of the final points. I would prefer that. But it doesn’t matter that much.”
High Hopes for New UK Trade Deal
In other trade news, Trump tweeted his “administration looks forward to negotiating a large scare Trade Deal with the United Kingdom.”
Trump’s tweet Thursday comes as British lawmakers appear set to put the brakes on Brexit, at least for now.
Parliament is set to vote later on whether to ask the European Union to request a delay the U.K.’s exit, due in just over two weeks on March 29. Lawmakers have committed the country to staying in the bloc unless a divorce deal is ratified.
Trump has been critical of Prime Minister Theresa May’s Brexit deal, previously warning that it could “kill” a bilateral trade agreement between the U.S. and the U.K.
But he now he says: “The potential is unlimited!”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.