While most economists dismiss the trade deficit as a measure of the United States economy's strength, President Donald Trump has made the reduction of the trade deficit a key benchmark for his year-long trade war.
Since July 2018, the United States has imposed duties on $250 billion worth of Chinese imports, including $50 billion in technology and industrial goods at 25 percent and $200 billion in other products including furniture and construction materials, at 10 percent.
Asked about his remarks earlier this week about US tariffs on Chinese goods staying in place for a period of time and whether that meant there was a snag in the negotiations, Trump told Fox Business Network, "No, not at all".
"I would say tariffs may be a factor in China", Powell said.
"We are talking about leaving them for a substantial period of time", Trump said of the tariffs.
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Elsewhere on Wednesday, the Federal Reserve cut its growth forecasts for the USA and Chairman Jerome Powell told reporters the global economy had begun to slow, notably in China, where tariffs were one obstacle to faster growth. "We'll see what happens", Trump said regarding China.
"They have BMW, they have Mercedes, they have a lot of very good cars that come in", he said in an interview with Fox Business Network's Maria Bartiromo airing Friday. They added that while there had been progress, negotiators wanted to meet face to face.
Despite the threat of sustained tariffs, Trump said prospects for a deal were "coming along nicely".
The statement noted that the United States looked forward to welcoming a delegation from China led by Vice Premier Liu He for meetings in Washington starting on April 3. "If it's not a great deal, you never catch up", Trump said in remarks at a military tank manufacturing plant.
Besides, echoing the leads of the anonymous spokesman, a Wall Street Journal report had revealed earlier that after concluding the next round of trade talks in Beijing next week, Chinese Premier Liu He was expected to visit Washington in the first week of April, as the two sides were looking forward to sealing a trade deal by the end of next month.
At a recent Senate hearing, Lighthizer said the USA had "to maintain the right to be able to - whatever happens to the current tariffs - to raise tariffs in situations where there's violations of the agreement". "According to some sources, the hope is to pave the way for a "signing summit" between Xi and Trump in late April".