Trump tempers expectations for possible US-China trade deal

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These U.S. sales won't dent the trade deficit, and they will simply shift global trade flows rather than expand them, because China was already in the market for these raw materials. That touch was there in first snubbing in February, and then welcoming to Washington this month, Liu He, China's Vice Premier and economic czar.

Even as he insisted he enjoyed a "great relationship with President Xi", and recalled "two of the great days of my life" spent in Beijing last November, Trump cast doubts on Xi's intentions.

The lawmakers wrote in the letter, which was addressed to Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross and US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, that China poses "national security threats to the United States". But ZTE's fate remained unclear.

The joint statement issued on Saturday has spoken of "meaningful increases in USA agriculture and energy exports". USA farmers have much to lose from a potential Chinese trade war, and stepped-up Chinese purchases of American soybeans and other commodities could be a boon. "We will see what happens", Trump said.

Trump's handling of the ZTE issue clearly reveals his taste for staged about-turns.

Some in the US government and business community have said they opposed what they saw as a clear-cut legal case against ZTE being used as a bargaining chip in the broader trade conflict.

The US initially fined ZTE $1.19 million in March 2017 for violating sanctions against Iran and North Korea.

He said it was a punishment "in name only" and warned the president against taking a softer stance on ZTE in exchange for promises of increased Chinese purchases of USA goods. In targeting ZTE, the U.S. discovered a weapon whose potency it was probably not aware of, and now it also has Huawei in its crosshairs, and this is something that is giving Beijing sleepless nights.

The joint statement has only alluded to what many believe is the real problem: The American belief that China is using state-owned companies to promote the forced transfer of technology and cyber espionage to undermine the USA technological lead.

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Meanwhile, China made few concessions to the United States concerns about intellectual property theft and government subsidies that triggered the stand-off.

The president has made reducing trade deficits a primary goal of global economic policy, ignoring the views of mainstream economists who view trade deficits as more a outcome of investment and savings decisions than a score card of national success.

Perhaps this unfavorable truce was the best Mr. Trump could achieve at a time when he also needs Mr. Xi's help dealing with North Korea. We have a long way to go'. Further, they demanded that China not use the WTO mechanism to delay action.

"When Kim Jong Un had the meeting with President Xi in China".

U.S. companies that make automobiles, semiconductors and other complex products bemoan Chinese government requirements that force USA firms to form joint ventures with Chinese companies, sharing their technology. In their view, it is about the U.S. seeking technological hegemony and thwarting China's rise.

The US has been conscious of the Chinese strategy of technology acquisition. "We need to wake up before it is too late".

The losses, which came after a 300-point gain a day earlier on optimism that a trade war had been at least temporarily averted, came amid growing signs of discord within the U.S. negotiating team.

But analysts noted that the joint statement issued at the end of the most recent round of negotiations did not include a target for the increased purchases, despite earlier U.S. claims the increase could amount to as much as $200bn. China wants to work along a policy "with Chinese characteristics".

"Given the increasing interaction between the two countries, we can not assure you they will not encounter more frictions or disputes in the future", advised Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Lu Kang, at a briefing. But Washington, too, must realise that a trade war could be mutually ruinous.