Photo: Reuters/Jonathan Ernst
Photo: Reuters/Jonathan Ernst

While Trump administration adviser Larry Kudlow indicated this week that the US president was still on board for a meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping late next month, hopes that it will occasion a trade breakthrough are growing dimmer.

After it was reported on Wednesday that the White House was refusing even to engage China on trade issues until it responds to demands with a concrete offer, there is now word that officials are prepared to take trade off the agenda of Donald Trump’s get-together with Xi.

Bloomberg reported the threat on Friday, citing sources familiar with the matter who added that, on the bright side, the administration likely won’t cancel the meeting altogether.

The two leaders are expected to talk on the sidelines of the Group of Twenty summit in Argentina next month, less than two months before a deadline for US tariffs on Chinese goods to increase substantially.

Despite the reasons for pessimism, the recent volatility in the US stock market – which is veering into correction territory with growing speculation about a coming bear market – could be a wild card in the US administration’s calculation. President Trump has touted the strong performance of US stocks in the face of trade war concerns as vindication that his policy will succeed without significant domestic collateral damage.

The trade war aside, Trump frequently cites stock performance as a measure of his success as president. Finding on off-ramp for the trade conflict could provide a boost to markets.

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