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US hopes to ink trade deal with China in November despite APEC cancellation

USA CHINA | 30 de octubre de 2019

File photo showing US President Donald Trump (l) and Chinese President Xi Jinping (r). EFE-EPA/Roman Pilipey/File

Washington, Oct 30 (efe-epa).- The White House said Wednesday that it expects to finalize the partial accord with China to create a truce in the bilateral trade war by mid-November, as scheduled, despite the fact that Chile has cancelled its hosting of the Nov. 16-17 APEC summit in Santiago, where the pact was to have been inked.

"We look forward to finalizing Phase One of the historic trade deal with China within the same time frame," as previously scheduled, White House spokesman Hogan Gidley said in a statement.

Nothing has been definitively determined as yet, however, and Gidley went on to say: "When we have an announcement, we'll let you know."

President Donald Trump had been planning to meet with his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping, in Santiago during the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum on Nov. 16-17.

However, earlier on Wednesday, Chilean President Sebastian Piñera announced that Chile was cancelling the APEC summit and the 2019 United Nations Climate Change Conference (known as COP25) due to the massive protests and demonstrations that have been besetting his country for almost the past two weeks.

Piñera's decision seems to have taken the White House by surprise and, according to press reports, the US administration learned of the move via the media and waited a couple of hours before giving its reaction.

"As of now, it appears APEC will not occur in Chile, and it's our understanding the organization does not currently have a secondary site prepared," said Gidley, adding that the administration was awaiting more information about another site where Trump and Xi could meet to sign the pact.

Gidley did not say whether the signing of the partial pact would occur at the new summit site or if the White House would try to organize a bilateral meeting between Trump and Xi.

Trump said on Monday that the first phase of the trade pact with Beijing could be signed "ahead of schedule," although the two nations still have not finalized the terms of such an accord.

Last week, US negotiators said that they were close to concluding several sections of the accord, but they did not definitively state that the pact would be ready for signing at the APEC summit.

Trump described the pact as the "first phase" of a process that could unfold in three phases, and he shelved his plans to hike tariffs on US imports from the Asian giant.

Meanwhile, China promised to increase its purchases of US agricultural products to between $40 billion and $50 billion, a figure that, Trump said, is between "two-and-a-half and three times greater" than what Beijing had bought up to now at the peak of its purchases, which totaled some $17 billion.

The International Monetary Fund has warned of the global effects of the trade war between the world's two largest economies, and it recently reduced its growth forecasts for both the US and China for 2019 and 2020.

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