U.S. and Chinese trade negotiators are laying the groundwork for a delay of a fresh round of tariffs set to kick in on Dec. 15, officials on both sides said, as they haggle over how to get Beijing to commit to massive purchases of U.S. farm products on which President Trump is insisting for a near-term deal.
In recent days, officials in Beijing and Washington have signaled that Sunday isn’t the final date for reaching a so-called phase-one deal—even though that is the date Mr. Trump has set for tariffs to increase on $165 billion of Chinese goods. That date could be extended, as has happened several times when the two sides thought they were on the verge of a deal. Those prior deals, though, never held and tariffs continued to mount.
Chinese and U.S. officials involved in the talks said they don’t have a hard deadline. On Friday, White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow said in two television appearances that there were “no arbitrary deadlines.” Such remarks from Kudlow—especially when they are restated several times—have in the past reflected the president’s views and have been echoed privately by other U.S. officials.
At The Wall Street Journal’s CEO Council meeting on Tuesday, Kudlow said the Dec. 15 tariffs “are still on the table” if Trump isn’t happy with the outcome of U.S.-China trade talks.