SEOUL — The U.S. will not impose new tariffs on China as the mega-powers restart trade talks that fell apart in May, President Trump said Saturday, signaling a freeze in an economic war that’s rattled investors, farmers and consumers alike.
Mr. Trump said Chinese President Xi Jinping agreed to resume talks “where we left off,” with guardrails in place.
“We’re holding on tariffs and they’re going to buy farm products. They would like to make a deal, I can tell you that,” Mr. Trump said in a lengthy press conference at the end of the G-20 summit in Osaka, Japan.
Tariffs that Mr. Trump already slapped on China will remain in place for now.
What to do about Huawei, a Chinese tech company effectively blacklisted by the U.S., will wait until the end of talks, though Mr. Trump said they agreed to let American companies sell components to the controversial firm.
“Huawei is a very complicated situation,” Mr. Trump said. “We agreed to leave that.”
It’s unclear if American and Chinese negotiators will be able to strike an accord, given complex hurdles, though both sides agreed not to heighten tensions.
“China and the United States both benefit from cooperation, and lose in a confrontation,” Mr. Xi said. “Cooperation and dialogue are better than friction and confrontation.”
Mr. Trump discussed the way forward after a two-day summit that focused on trade, climate change and women’s empowerment in the economy.
Mr. Trump took questions from reporters for over an hour at a closing press conference. He then hopped on Air Force One for Osan Air Force Base in South Korea. He’s lined up meetings with President Moon Jae-in, here in Seoul.
The president said he might meet North Korean leader Kim Jong-un at the demilitarized zone that separates North Korea and South Korea, took additional swipes at Democrats and defended his behavior in bilateral talks with foreign autocrats.
The decision to resume talks within China headlined the summit, however.
Mr. Trump last month imposed a 25-percent tariff on more than $200 billion worth of Chinese imports, after trade talks that appeared to be nearing the finish line fell apart.
The White House accused China of reneging on previously negotiated details.
“We were very close, and then … something happened where it slipped a little bit, and now we’re getting a little bit closer,” Mr. Trump said ahead of bilateral talks with Mr. Xi. “But it would be historic if we could do a fair trade deal. We’re totally open to it, and I know you’re totally open to it.”
Tensions have rippled beyond tariffs.
The U.S. tried to sideline Huawei by urging nations to resist the company’s 5G technology, citing its purported coziness with the Communist government’s surveillance capabilities.
In kind, the Chinese government developed a list of “unreliable entities” that could target U.S. tech giants.
China also increased levies on $60 billion worth of U.S. goods as payback for Mr. Trump’s moves, rattling markets and placing farmers in the crosshairs of the trade dispute.
• Tom Howell Jr. can be reached at email@example.com.
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