US and China near deal that would suspend planned tariffs

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Trump administration and China are close to finalizing a modest trade agreement that would suspend tariffs that are set to kick in Sunday, de-escalating their 17-month trade war.

“We’re close to a deal,” said Myron Brilliant, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s head of international affairs, who has been briefed by both sides.

Brilliant said the United States has agreed to suspend plans to impose tariffs on $160 billion in Chinese imports Sunday and to reduce existing tariffs — though the amount of the cut was not clear. In return, the Chinese would buy more U.S. farm products, increase Americans firms’ access to the Chinese market and beef up protection for intellectual property rights.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. AP’s earlier story follows below

China’s government says negotiators are in “close communication” with Washington ahead of a weekend deadline for a U.S. tariff hike.

A Ministry of Commerce spokesman on Thursday gave no indication of possible progress in trade talks or whether Washington might postpone the increase.

News reports say President Donald Trump’s advisers were preparing for a possible delay but the president had yet to decide.

The spokesman, Gao Feng, told reporters, “the economic and trade teams of both sides have maintained close communication.” He said he had no additional details to release.

Beijing has threatened to retaliate if Washington goes ahead with plans to raise duties on $160 billion of Chinese imports.

The two sides are negotiating a Phase 1 agreement as part of the effort to resolve their sprawling trade dispute.

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