In return for the postponement in the higher US tariffs, the White House said China had agreed to step up its purchases of USA farm, energy and industrial goods. That left Trump hungry to strike some sort of deal with Xi, people familiar with the matter said.
President Donald Trump at a bilateral dinner meeting with President Xi Jinping of China during the Group of 20 summit at the Hyatt Palace Hotel in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Dec. 1, 2018.
Chief White house economist Larry Kudlow said that the meeting between the two leaders lasted for about 2.5 hours and added that the talks were "very good", but not told any details.
The U.S. had a $335.4 billion trade deficit with China in 2017.
Trump has appointed Lighthizer, who just completed a new trade agreement with Canada and Mexico and is one of the administration's most vocal China critics, to oversee the new round of talks, officials said.
"We anticipate a similar outcome in the US-China case; without any firm commitments from the Chinese on larger intellectual property or other issues, Trump will likely return to threatening tariffs when he fails to get what he wants in the next three months", Allen wrote.
China and the USA announced a truce in their trade war after the meeting between Trump and Xi Jinping on Saturday, but that quickly descended into confusion, with both sides announcing different statements on what was agreed.
Imports of American soybeans fell by 95% in October YoY and LNG imports were virtually non-existent after the tariffs were imposed.
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China committed to start lifting tariffs and non-tariff barriers immediately, including reducing its 40 percent tariffs on autos, Kudlow said. "And it'll have an incredibly positive impact on farming, meaning agriculture, industrial products, computers - every type of product".
Earlier this year Trump imposed an import tax of 25 percent on $50 billion in Chinese products, then hit an additional $200 billion worth of goods with 10 percent tariffs.
Both sides will immediately hold talks on structural changes concerning forced technology transfers made by Chinese firms on USA companies, intellectual property rights protection, non-tariff trade barriers, cyber intrusion concerns, cyber theft and agricultural, the White House added. Trump is relying on tariffs, and the threat of imposing them, to force other countries to buy more goods from America.
The deal means the U.S.is unlikely to match China's 40-percent duties on light vehicles built in the US, a move the American government has considered in recent weeks.
U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin has made it clear there's only one person leading the trade negotiations with China.
China's ambassador to the United States brushed off questions about the different accounts of the Trump-Xi meeting.
But some said China could soon scrap its tariffs to show commitment to the trade truce. The White House and Beijing have essentially reached an agreement to pause the trade war for 90 days while the two sides try to reach a formal trade deal.
Kudlow said he did not think that vehicle tariffs were imminent, though he added that they were in Trump's "quiver of arrows".