October 10, 2019 6:15 PM, EDT

Trump Says Day 1 China Trade Talks Went ‘Very Well’

China vice premier Liu HeChina's vice premier Liu He (second from left) exits the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative during a meeting in Washington, D.C., Oct. 10. (Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg News)

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President Donald Trump said the first day of high-level trade negotiations between the U.S. and China went “very well” and he’ll meet the top Chinese negotiator on Oct. 11.

The talks between Chinese Vice Premier Liu He, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin are expected to resume Oct. 11, Trump told reporters as he left the White House. It’s the first senior-level, in-person talks since late July to try to end an 18-month trade war that is taking a toll on the global economy.

“I think it’s going really well,” Trump said late Oct. 10. “They’ll be speaking a little bit later, but they’re basically wrapping it up and we’re going to see them tomorrow, right here, and it’s going very very well.”

The U.S. and China both have appeared willing to work toward a partial deal, and leave the more controversial issues for later discussions. However, Trump has said he would prefer a complete agreement. The core U.S. demands would commit China to cracking down on the alleged theft of intellectual property and stop forcing U.S. companies to hand over their commercial secrets as a condition of doing business in China.

Without progress, the U.S. is due to increase tariffs on about $250 billion of Chinese imports to 30% from 25% on Oct. 15. More duties on $160 billion of Chinese imports are due Dec. 15.

Bloomberg reported on Oct. 9 that the White House is looking at rolling out a previously agreed currency pact with China as part of an preliminary deal that could also see next week’s planned tariff increase suspended, according to people familiar with the plans.

Separately, Bloomberg is reporting that China plans to ask the U.S. to lift sanctions on its biggest shipping company, citing people familiar with the matter.

A Chinese official said Oct. 9 the country was still open to reaching a partial trade deal with the U.S. that may include large purchases of American commodities, but added that success was contingent on Trump halting further tariffs.

Trump last week approved licenses for some American companies to sell nonsensitive goods to Huawei Technologies Co., the New York Times reported, citing people familiar with the move. While Trump committed to the move after meeting President Xi Jinping in June, no licenses have been issued yet.

The discussions around an interim deal come as the Trump administration this week further ramped up pressure on Beijing by blacklisting Chinese technology firms over their alleged role in oppression in the far west region of Xinjiang, as well as placed visa bans on officials linked to the mass detention of Muslims. At the same time, a fight over free speech between China and the NBA, triggered by a tweet backing Hong Kong’s protesters, has underscored the heated tensions.

According to people familiar with the currency language, the pact — first announced in February — largely resembles what the U.S. agreed to in a new trade agreement with Mexico and Canada and also incorporates transparency commitments included in Group of 20 statements.

— With assistance from Justin Blum, Shawn Donnan and William Edwards.

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