President Trump said he thinks there's a "very good chance" of reaching a trade deal with China, the latest sign that the months-long dispute could be coming to a close. Mr. Trump also announced he would participate in a summit with Chinese President Xi Jinping to finalize the details of an agreement in about four weeks, but only if the framework of a deal is in place.
"This is the granddaddy of them all. And we'll see what happens. I think it has a very good chance of happening," Mr. Trump said at the White House Thursday before a meeting with Chinese Vice Premier Liu He and other negotiators. "If we have a deal, there will be a summit. I think we'll know over the next four weeks."
The U.S. and China have been in an escalating tariff war for months, with Mr. Trump accusing China of unfair trade practices and intellectual property theft.
Mr. Trump told reporters the "hardest issues" had been resolved but the two countries still have to hash out intellectual property theft issues and certain tariffs.
"Some of the toughest things have been agreed to," Mr. Trump said. "It's a very — I'm using a word I don't like using too often — it's a very comprehensive deal."
He also called the Chinese government "tough negotiators" but "great friends." Although he did not announce the specific date for a summit with Xi, he said the coming deal would be "an epic deal, historic — if it happens."
Mr. Trump tweeted Thursday morning that talks with China "are moving along nicely." Speaking at the White House earlier Thursday, the president said the two countries are nearing a deal.
"They very much want to make a deal. We'll see what happens," Mr Trump said. "It's got to be a great deal. We've been losing for many years, four, five, $600 billion a year, we're losing. It's got to be a great deal."
Liu, who is China's top trade negotiator, met with U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin on Wednesday.
Mr. Trump's meeting with Liu came hours after heinto the U.S. from Mexico. In order to avoid the tariffs, Mr. Trump says Mexico must do more to prevent illegal immigration into the U.S. and if it does not crack down on drugs crossing the border. He said he would give Mexico a year to prevent immigrants from entering the U.S. before following through on the auto taxes.
"If Mexico doesn't help, that's okay. We'll tariff their cars," he said. At another point, he said, "If the drugs don't stop, we'll tariff the cars. If that doesn't work, we'll close the border."
"The whole ballgame is cars," he added.
Before meeting with Liu, Mr. Trump said, "We'll start with the tariffs and see what happens."