WASHINGTON - Washington and Beijing are still a “sizable distance” apart in the trade talks, and no date has been set for a meeting between the countries’ leaders, a top White House adviser said Thursday.
The remarks helped deepen losses on Wall Street, which opened lower on Thursday following downbeat economic forecasts for major European economies.
U.S. President Donald Trump last week said he expected to meet with China’s President Xi Jinping in person “in the near future” to seal a final trade deal.
But top White House economist Larry Kudlow told Fox Business on Thursday that “No date has been set, no time, no place, no nothing at the moment.”
And while Trump was “optimistic” about prospects for a deal, there remains a “sizable distance” separating the two sides, Kudlow said.
The benchmark Dow Jones Industrial Average lost more than 300 points following Kudlow’s remarks but then recovered slightly.
Last week, Trump and Chinese officials had expressed optimism during the second round of talks in Washington about chances of striking a bargain, but they released few details about progress in their talks.
The two sides have three weeks before U.S. duty rates on many Chinese goods are due to jump sharply, which economists say could further weaken the global economy.
CNBC also reported Thursday that an unnamed senior administration official said it was “highly unlikely” a Trump-Xi meeting could occur before the March 1 tariffs deadline but could happen “shortly thereafter.”
U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin are due to travel to China next week for the third round of trade negotiations.
Washington is demanding far-reaching changes to Chinese industrial policy, which U.S. officials allege involves the theft of American intellectual property and massive market distortions through subsidies and other measures.