Mnuchin, in China, looks forward to trade talks


United States president Donald Trump said last week he did not plan to meet with Xi before the March 1 deadline, dampening hopes that a trade pact could be reached quickly.

The meeting is likely to be another effort to clinch a trade deal with the U.S. heading into the March 1 tariff deadline.

USA tariffs on $200 billion (155 billion pounds) worth of imports from China are scheduled to rise to 25 percent from 10 percent if the two sides can not reach a deal by a March 1 deadline, increasing pain and costs in sectors from consumer electronics to agriculture. "I could see myself letting that slide for a little while", Trump said at the White House.

A March 1 deadline is looming for China and the U.S. to strike an accord before Washington hikes tariffs on Chinese goods to 25%.

Mnuchin appeared at a Beijing hotel a couple of days ahead of scheduled high-level meetings with Chinese officials in the capital, with a March 1 deadline looming to strike an accord.

Negotiators from the two countries are meeting this week in Beijing, with USA officials pressing China to commit to deeper reforms to a state-driven economic model that they say hurts American companies. Trump had said final resolution of the trade dispute would depend on the meeting with Xi "in the near future" but told reporters it had not yet been arranged.

The last round of talks in Washington late last month resulted in China importing American soybeans as it implemented promises to buy more US goods. According to a White House official, the delegates were preparing to focus more on pressing Beijing to gain a structural reform in China's business policy for the U.S. firms.

The US negotiators had been preparing for pressing China next week to reform its intellectual property transfer right rules in order to seal a decipherable deal, which could prevail further losses resulted in the tariff war, the amount of which could breach trillions.