Trump ‘may or may not’ remove tariffs while China trade talks continue

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May 10, 2019, 8:58 PM UTC / Source:

By Christina Wilkie, CNBC

President Donald Trump on Friday issued a statement about the high-level trade talks this week with a Chinese delegation, saying the stiff tariffs his administration imposed Friday “may or may not be removed” while trade talks continue.

Markets responded to the statement by jumping to session highs after a roller coaster week that was marked by sharp swings, largely in response to news of progress, followed by setbacks, in the trade talks.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told CNBC that there are currently no China trade talks scheduled in the future. “Nothing planned as of now,” he said, adding that the talks held this week were “constructive.”

The statement came as talks ended early Friday afternoon, after Liu He, the top Chinese trade negotiator, left the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, Robert Lighthizer, in Washington after two days of negotiations.

Both Lighthizer and Mnuchin were seen entering the White House after the talks ended.

The world’s two largest economies engaged in negotiations on Thursday and Friday as they tried to salvage a trade deal that appeared to be within their grasp only a week ago.

The U.S. increased tariffs on $200 billion in Chinese goods to 25 percent from 10 percent on Friday following what it called China’s decision to back out of key commitments to a developing agreement. China has promised to retaliate against the tariffs, but it is unclear what action Beijing would take.

Eamon Javers, CNBC contributed.

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