The top economic adviser to Chinese President Xi Jinping, Liu He, opposite US President Donald Trump. Photos: Reuters
Chinese Vice-Premier Liu He opposite US President Donald Trump. Photos: Reuters

The White House has yet again found a way to confound reporters, with major news outlets issuing conflicting headlines about plans for ongoing trade talks with China this week.

After The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal reported that US President Donald Trump was poised to announce a date for a summit with his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping, a senior administration official told Reuters this was false.

“The White House is not expected to announce a date for a meeting,” the official was quoted as saying.

Summit details aside, the meeting, which is reportedly scheduled for 4:30 pm, has been hailed as a sign of movement towards the conclusion of a deal.

Both sides have indicated that they are in the late stages of drafting text of a deal, with many of the most difficult issues largely hashed out.

A consensus among analysts sees a deal extremely likely, with both presidents Trump and Xi eager to put the costly tariff battle behind them.

The potential deal is expected to include increased purchases of US agricultural products, on which China slapped heavy retaliatory tariffs, targeting Trump’s political base. A move by Beijing to take the pressure off US farmers would help Trump consolidate support as he begins campaigning for re-election in 2020.

Trump previously met with Vice-Premier Liu in the White House last year as optimism grew for a deal that would avert the imposition of tariffs. Following a photo op with the president, the deal fell through.

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