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White House calls Trump-Xi meeting 'highly successful', sets 90-day time limit for agreements to be reached

US President Donald Trump, center, and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, second from the right, listen to remarks by China's President Xi Jinping during a bilateral meeting at the G20 Summit, December 1, 2018 in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Photo: AP

The working dinner between US President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping was a "highly successful meeting", in which the US president agreed not to impose additional tariffs on Chinese goods after January 1, the White House said in a statement.

The presidents of China and the United States held their much anticipated summit on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Argentina on December 1, where the two leaders exchanged views about the economic and trade issues that have pestered the two powers for months and agreed to suspend new tariffs after January 1, when Washington had planned to impose 25 percent tariffs on $200 billion of Chinese goods.

"On trade, President Trump has agreed that on January 1, 2019, he will leave the tariffs on $200 billion worth of products at the 10 percent rate, and not raise it to 25 percent at this time. China will agree to purchase a not yet agreed upon, but very substantial, amount of agricultural, energy, industrial and other products from the United States to reduce the trade imbalance between our two countries. China has agreed to start purchasing agricultural products from our farmers immediately," said the statement, which was published on the website of the White House shortly after the Trump-Xi meeting.

However, the United States sets a 90-day time limit, within which the two countries will have to reach agreements on "structural changes" with respect to forced technology transfer, intellectual property protection, non-tariff barriers, cyber intrusions and cyber theft, services and agriculture.

"If at the end of this period of time, the parties are unable to reach an agreement, the 10 percent tariffs will be raised to 25 percent," said the statement.

The Trump-Xi dinner meeting reignites the hope that the escalating trade conflict between the two countries could be put on hold temporarily but leaves an uncertainty about whether a deal could be completed within the following three months.

Some experts doubt a detailed agreement could be ironed out in the following 90 days citing Trump's capriciousness.

"The result of the Xi-Trump meeting is positive with the two leaders sending a message that they will endeavor to solve their economic and trade problems through dialogue and consultation. But it depends on whether the United States could deliver on its promises made at the meeting," said Diao Daming, an American studies expert and associate professor at the Renmin University of China.

China seems to have sent a sign of compromise as the White House statement said that President Xi "is open to approving the previously unapproved Qualcomm-NXP deal should it again be presented to him".

The statement also said that Trump and Xi will make joint efforts to realize the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, which could not become a reality without China's intervention.

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