Trump says trade deal may be signed ‘shortly’ after January 15

United States President Donald Trump, who announced last month that the Phase 1 trade deal with China would be signed on January 15, said on Thursday the agreement could be signed “shortly thereafter”.

In an interview with the ABC TV affiliate in Toledo, Ohio, Trump said: “We’re going to be signing on January 15th – I think it will be January 15th, but shortly thereafter, but I think January 15th – a big deal with China.”

Trump said again that China would buy $50bn worth of US farm products under the deal, but details have not been confirmed by the US and Chinese negotiators.

The White House did not immediately respond to a request for clarification of Trump’s comments.

Trump had previously announced in a tweet on December 31 that the first phase of a trade deal with China would be signed on January 15, sending share prices surging to new heights.

The Phase 1 deal, struck last month, is expected to reduce tariffs and boost Chinese purchases of American farm, energy and manufactured goods while addressing some disputes over intellectual property.

Chinese Vice Premier Liu He, head of the country’s negotiating team in US-China trade talks, will visit Washington, DC, from January 13 to 15 to sign the deal, China’s commerce ministry said on Thursday.

Negotiating teams from both sides remain in close communication on the particular arrangements of the signing, Gao Feng, a spokesman at the commerce ministry, told reporters at a regular briefing.

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