Trump says wants big trade deal with China or will 'postpone' it

FILE PHOTO: U.S. President Donald Trump arrives to deliver remarks on border security and the partial shutdown of the U.S. government in the Diplomatic Room at the White House in Washington, U.S., January 19, 2019. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas/File Photo/File Photo

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. President Donald Trump said on Thursday he would either strike a very big trade deal with China or “postpone” it, but it was not clear precisely what he was referring to.

“This isn’t going to be a small deal with China. This is either going to be a very big deal, or it’s going to be a deal that we’ll just postpone for a little while,” Trump told reporters at the White House, without elaborating.

The world’s two largest economies are trying to strike a deal on trade by early March to avoid a planned increase in the tariff rate being imposed on Chinese imports by the United States.

Asked if he would postpone the U.S.-set deadline, Trump said: “I don’t know.”

But he said China wanted to strike a deal to avoid an increase in tariffs.

“I’d like to accommodate them, if we can,” Trump said. “I’d like to accommodate China if we can get the deal done.”

Reporting by Steve Holland in Washington; Writing by Makini Brice; Editing by Tim Ahmann and James Dalgleish