President Donald Trump is likely to hold talks with Wang Qishan, China’s vice president, at the World Economic Forum later this month, the South China Morning Post reported, citing a person familiar with the matter.
Wang is expected to lead China’s team to the annual forum in Davos, Switzerland. The talk with Trump would take place on the sidelines of the meeting, the newspaper said.
The White House didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.
It’s possible that if Trump, who’s making his second trip to Davos as president, doesn’t meet with Wang, one or more of his top trade lieutenants will instead.
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and senior White House adviser Jared Kushner will be among a large U.S. contingent at the Jan. 22-25 meeting. Mnuchin told Bloomberg News in December that the U.S. was “confirming the logistics of several meetings” that could be held with China during the forum.
Talks in Switzerland would follow a meeting due to start in Beijing on Monday between U.S. and Chinese officials, the first formal gathering between the two sides since Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping agreed to a 90-day tariff truce in December, following a widely-anticipated dinner at the Group of 20 meeting in Buenos Aires.
Deputy U.S. Trade Representative Jeffrey Gerrish will lead the delegation that will meet with Chinese counterparts starting Monday.
The negotiations will address issues including intellectual property, agriculture and industrial purchases, two people familiar with the preparations said. Preliminary discussions have been “a little more optimistic than usual,” White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow told Bloomberg TV on Friday.
A week ago, Trump reported “big progress” in trade talks with his Chinese counterpart, providing an optimistic start to what could be a make-or-break year for ties between the world’s two largest economies.
China says it’s ready to buy more American goods. But it’s resisting U.S. demands for tougher action on technology transfers, and less state support for strategic industries like robotics and computer chips.
The talks are crucial as the U.S. stock market continues to be volatile. Earlier in the week Apple Inc. plunged the most since 2013 after flagging slower iPhone sales, especially in China — a trend the company blamed on Trump’s trade war.
The sell-off dropped Apple to fourth place in terms of U.S. companies by market capitalization. As recently as the start of December Apple was No. 1. Trump said on Friday he wasn’t concerned about Apple’s revenue warning.
“Apple makes their product in China,” Trump said during a news conference at the White House. “China is the biggest beneficiary of Apple, more than us.”
— With assistance from Jenny Leonard and Shawn Donnan.
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