China wants the United States to lift its tariffs as part of a deal. Washington, which is cognizant that the tariffs give it leverage to ensure Beijing follows through on any commitments it makes, is wary of lifting them right away.
Trump said last week the United States may leave tariffs on Chinese goods for a “substantial period” to ensure compliance.
“Some tariffs will stay,” the second official said. “There’s going to be some give on that, but we’re not going to get rid of all the tariffs. We can’t.”
The topic will be addressed in upcoming talks.
“Obviously that is an issue that we need to resolve … and will be an important part of a final deal,” the first official said. He said there was some agreement on enforcement on what he termed the “back end” once a deal was in place: a structure in which both sides could raise grievances and implement tariffs if there were violations to the agreement.
Since July 2018, the United States has imposed duties on $250 billion worth of Chinese imports, including $50 billion in technology and industrial goods at 25 percent and $200 billion in other products including furniture and construction materials, at 10 percent.
China has hit back with tariffs on about $110 billion worth of U.S. goods, including soybeans and other commodities.
The first official said the focus of talks had shifted from Chinese purchases of U.S. goods to the trickier structural issues, which he said Trump wanted as part of a “great” deal.
Bipartisan support at home for his tough stance on China as well as from the business community have emboldened Trump as he pushes for a deal that addresses long-standing complaints on trade, the source said.
Some officials have expressed concern that Trump would accept a deal involving big-ticket Chinese purchases of U.S. goods and falling short on structural issues.
He expressed optimism that a deal would be reached.
“I’m still confident, but it takes time,” he said. “Until any deal is finalized, it can always go either way. And the president has made clear, both in word and in action, that he’s going to walk away from deals if they’re not good deals.”