China and the United States should work together to get their relations back on track, China's premier said in Beijing on Thursday, ahead of the U.S. midterm elections and a possible meeting between presidents Xi Jinping and Donald Trump.
Trump sounded very optimistic about reaching a trade deal with China, or else, he warned, he was ready to impose a trade tariff of 25 per cent on another Dollars 267 billion worth of Chinese products. They also agreed to meet on the sidelines of the Group of 20 summit meeting in Buenos Aires, Argentina, at the end of the month.
Discord has already arisen among Trump's trade team: USA trade representative Robert Lighthizer is opposed to a push for a deal at the G20, according to two of the people.
Trump also offered to host a "Western-style" dinner for Xi on December 1, after the G20 leaders' meeting, an invitation that Beijing had tentatively accepted, people familiar with the matter told the South China Morning Post.
The direct talks were the first between the two leaders to have been reported since May.
Trump has imposed penalty tariffs of up to 25 percent on $250 billion of Chinese goods in a dispute over Beijing's plans for state-led development of technology industries.
"The economic teams of the two countries should strengthen contact, conduct consultations on issues of mutual concern, and push for a mutually acceptable solution to China-US economic and trade issues", Xi said.
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He said the two countries "are competitors but not adversaries".
He described the phone call as very positive.
Earlier, the White House's top economic adviser, Larry Kudlow, said the United States and China were not close to a deal to resolve their trade differences, and he was less optimistic than previously that such an agreement would come together.
"I think we will make a deal with China", he told journalists at the White House. But just this week, we indicted 10 Chinese for stealing intellectual property.
"China has been hurt over the last number of months".
"If we can open up China and make it fair, for the 1st time ever, this should have done years ago by other Presidents but it was not- I am very much willing to do it".
Trump's posture toward China has been closely watched by investors, who are looking for the possibility of tensions cooling. "By the way, the president on one of the cable shows, did say - it didn't get picked up - that if some kind of amicable deal with China were to happen, then a lot of tariffs might be pulled back".