U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer. - M. Scott Mahaskey-POLITICO
POLITICO

U.S.-China trade negotiations need to reach a successful end by March 1 or new tariffs will be imposed, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer said on Sunday, clarifying there is a “hard deadline” after a week of confusion among administration advisers.

Global markets are jittery over prospects of a collision between the world’s two largest economic powers over China’s huge trade surplus with the U.S. and U.S. claims that China is stealing intellectual property and technology.

“As far as I am concerned it is a hard deadline. When I talk to the president of the U.S. he is not talking about going beyond March,” Lighthizer said on the CBS show “Face the Nation.”

He was referring to President Donald Trump’s recent decision to delay new tariffs while talks proceed.

“The way this is set up is that at the end of 90 days, these tariffs will be raised,” said Lighthizer, who has been tapped to lead the talks and appeared to tamp down expectations that the negotiation period could be extended.

In Argentina last weekend, Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping agreed to a truce that delayed the planned Jan. 1 U.S. hike of tariffs to 25 per cent from 10 per cent on $200 billion of Chinese goods while they negotiate a trade deal.

However, the arrest of a top executive at China’s Huawei Technologies Co Ltd’s has roiled global markets amid fears that it could further inflame the China-U.S. trade row.

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