Technology And IP Are "Thorniest" Issues Amid US-China Trade Talks: Lighthizer

Update2: According to Bloomberg, while the trade talks with China have been productive, Lighthizer noted that technology issues and the protection of US Intellectual Property (IP) are the "thorniest" issues. The US Trade Rep. added that President Trump is closely involved in the negotiations. 

Earlier in the day the White House reiterated that it would adhere to a March 1 deadline to slap new tariffs on Beijing if a deal isn't reached by then. 

Lighthizer and Mnuchin will embark on a trip to China to continue the discussions "as soon as mid-February" according to the report. 

Update: After an Oval Office meeting between Chinese Vice Premier Liu He and President Trump, Trade Rep. Robert Lighthizer announced that he and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin "will be going over there (China) shortly and then we'll see where we are," adding that while they had made "substantial progress" following two intense days of discussions, there is "much work to do" and "a lot more issues to cover." The trip will be scheduled for after the Chinese New Year which takes place on February 5. 

Lighthizer added that China and the US are more or less in continuous negotiations, and that he thinks progress has been made. According to reports, China's Liu said he hopes to accelerate the 90-day period for a deal, and that he agrees with Lighthizer on several topics. 

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With the second day of trade talks between China and the US drawing to a close, President Trump said he would either strike a very big trade deal with China or "postpone" it, but it was not clear precisely what he was referring to.

"This isn't going to be a small deal with China. This is either going to be a very big deal, or it's going to be a deal that we'll just postpone for a little while," Trump told reporters at the White House, without elaborating.

Earlier on Thursday, Trump tweeted that trade "meetings are going well with good intent and spirit on both sides. China does not want an increase in Tariffs and feels they will do much better if they make a deal", although he later qualified by saying that there would be no deal unless China opened it economy to "manufacturing, farmers and other US businesses and industries."

While the world's two largest economies are trying to strike a deal on trade by March 1, to avoid a planned increase in the tariff rate imposed on Chinese imports by the United States, the market has already priced in a favorable outcome even though as Rabobank's Michael Every speculated, "with the Fed having delivered unto Trump what is Trump’s, and the Dow over 25,000, does he really need that easy deal, or can he let his team push back harder?"

Separately, during the same press conference, Trump said he would not accept a deal to avert another government shutdown without money for his long-desired border wall, pushing back on Democrats who stressed their opposition to a wall.

“If they're not going to give money for the wall...it’s not going to work,” Trump told reporters in the Oval Office.

Trump said he would wait to see if Congress can come up with an agreement before the Feb. 15 funding deadline before he decides whether to declare a national emergency in a bid to build the wall on his own.

Citing what he said is a threat posed by a new migrant caravan making its way toward the U.S., Trump claimed that “Nancy Pelosi will be begging for a wall." Earlier on Thursday, Speaker Nancy Pelosi said that Democrats remain adamantly opposed to wall funding, but could provide money for new fencing and other barriers in a spending bill.

“There's not going to be any wall money in the legislation,” Pelosi said during her weekly press briefing in the Capitol. “However, if they have some suggestions about certain localities where technology, some infrastructure [is appropriate], ... that’s part of the negotiation.”

Trump also said that "if walls are immoral, maybe we should take down all the walls that are built right now. You will see a mess like you've never seen before."

Despite the temporary reopening of the government last Friday, the president cast doubt on bipartisan spending talks, arguing earlier in the day that Republicans were “wasting their time” by engaging with Democrats who oppose wall funding. While Trump has previously said he would be open to calling structures along the border “steel slats” or a “barrier,” he said Thursday he would return to demanding a wall.

“Lets just call them WALLS from now on and stop playing political games! A WALL is a WALL!” Trump tweeted.