Sources Indicate White House Is ‘Pessimistic’ On Trade Deal With China

The skepticism of a successful trade deal comes as Washington prepares for more trade talks with Beijing at the end of the month.

China President Xi Jinping, left, speaking with U.S. President Donald Trump.
Thomas Peter / Getty Images

The skepticism of a successful trade deal comes as Washington prepares for more trade talks with Beijing at the end of the month.

Earlier this week, President Donald Trump sent out a tweet suggesting that his administration’s tariffs imposed against China were successfully demonstrating a new trade agreement was needed between the two nations.

“China posts slowest economic numbers since 1990 due to U.S. trade tensions and new policies,” Trump wrote in his tweet. “Makes so much sense for China to finally do a Real Deal, and stop playing around!”

Despite the president’s optimism in believing his administration has the upper hand in negotiations, others within his inner circle are more skeptical that Beijing will agree to any deals to end a trade standoff in the near future.

Administration officials are “pessimistic,” according to White House sources who spoke with ABC News on the topic of U.S.-China trade negotiations. Their souring attitudes over the possibility of a trade deal developing comes a little more than a week before a new round of trade talks are set to commence.

U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and trade negotiator Robert Lightthizer are set to meet with China’s vice premier Liu He and other officials from Beijing on January 30 and 31. There are no indications as yet that any movement has been made by either side to end a months-long trade war between the two nations.

A spokesman for the Treasury Department said that the negotiations are an “ongoing process with the Chinese that is nowhere near completion.”

A trade deal is sorely wanted, especially before a March deadline that Trump and Xi previously agreed to. If that deadline is reached without a deal, both sides said they could impose more tariffs on one another.

Skepticism about a large-scale trade deal being completed in the near future went beyond the White House.

Charles Freeman, the senior vice president for Asia at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, expressed concern. “I would have a hard time, especially considering what’s happening in Washington, believing that this will be wrapped up in a little bow by March,” Freeman said.

Trade wars between the two nations, as well as growing trade conflicts elsewhere between the U.S. and other countries, have contributed to lower confidence numbers among American CEOs, according to reporting from CNN.

A recent survey of CEOs found that 30 percent of them predict the global economy will slow down over the next year, a number that was at just 5 percent a year prior. Forty-four percent of CEOs in North America are concerned about trade conflicts in general, as are 38 percent of Chinese CEOs, the survey revealed.