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China, US moving closer to deal, no agreement on tariff rollbacks: Report

China and the US are “moving closer to agreeing” on a “phase one” trade deal, according to report on Sunday.

The Washington and Beijing had not agreed on specifics or size of rollbacks of tariffs on Chinese goods. Beijing’s insistence that Washington rolls back the Trump administration’s tariffs has been a major sticking point, the Global Times reported.

Earlier this month, US President Donald Trump had said that he did not yet agree to roll back tariffs. He is expected to have the last word in the United States on terms of any “phase one” deal.

On Friday, Trump and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping both insisted that they would resist pressure to give ground on a trade deal that Washington’s leader said could be “very close”.

That information was not included in a report on the Global Times’ website, which was much more cautious about the future of a deal.

Last week, the Chinese government invited United States Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin to Beijing for face-to-face talks, the Wall Street Journal reported. Neither the USTR nor Treasury responded to a request for comment.

On Saturday, U.S. National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien said an initial trade deal with China was still possible by the end of the year. He said it would be “a good sign” if the Hong Kong elections took place without violence.

China had called for a rollback of existing tariffs, to which Trump has said he did not agree. American officials want large purchases of US farm exports.

Pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong have been fighting for greater autonomy from mainland China for months, holding large-scale demonstrations that have seen an increasingly violent crackdown by Beijing’s police forces in recent weeks.

Last week, President Trump had said that China was not “stepping up to the level that I want” in the negotiation.

In September, the US had imposed fresh tariffs on $112 billion worth of Chinese imported goods, marking a sharp escalation of the bruising trade war between the world’s two largest economies.

Donald Trump launched the trade war as part of his “America First” bid to lower a wide trade deficit with China, but the tariffs imposed thus far have barely made a dent in that gap.

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