February 12, 2019 / 5:40 PM / 3 days ago

UPDATE 1-Trump says could let March 1 deadline for China trade deal slide

(Recasts first paragraph, adds Trump comments, possibility of meeting deadline)

WASHINGTON, Feb 12 (Reuters) - U.S. President Donald Trump said on Tuesday that he could see letting the March 1 deadline for reaching a trade agreement with China slide a little, but that he would prefer not to and expects to meet with Chinese President Xi Jinping to close the deal at some point.

Top U.S. officials arrived in the Chinese capital on Tuesday before high-level trade talks, as the world’s two largest economies attempt to hammer out the deal and avoid another escalation of tariffs after March 1.

If they are coming close to a complete deal, Trump said he could see pushing off that deadline.

“We’re doing very well over in China,” Trump told reporters at a cabinet meeting, adding that the negotiating team is big.

The United States and China took a 90-day break from their ongoing trade war to try to come to an agreement, with the threat of tariffs hanging over their negotiations.

If the two sides cannot reach a deal by March 1, U.S. tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese imports are scheduled to increase to 25 percent from 10 percent. China would likely respond by raising tariffs on $60 billion worth of U.S goods that it announced last year in retaliation.

Reporting by Steve Holland and Makini Brice; Writing by Doina Chiacu and Lisa Lambert; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Bill Berkrot

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