US tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese goods will increase on Friday after a pivotal round of trade talks between Washington and Beijing failed to produce an agreement to forestall the higher levies and to end a tit-for-tat trade war.
The meeting between on Thursday evening comes after President Donald Trump had announced in a tweet on Sunday promising to raise tariffs on $200 billion of Chinese goods. The president has also threatened to extend tariffs to all $540 billion in annual Chinese imports.
The White House said talks would continue on Friday between top Trump administration officials and Chinese negotiators, said The New York Times.
"This evening, Ambassador (Robert E.) Lightizer and Secretary (Steve) Mnuchin met with President Trump to discuss the ongoing trade negotiations with China. The Ambassador and Secretary then had a working dinner with Vice Premier Liu He, and agreed to continue discussions," the White House said in a statement.
Lighthizer, the chief US trade negotiator, began the talks shortly after 5 p.m. on Thursday with China's Liu to continue negotiations aimed at a comprehensive deal, The Washington Post reported.
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Those talks had been proceeding smoothly, with US officials predicting a final accord could be agreed to as soon as this week.
But Chinese officials balked at specifying in the agreement which laws would be amended to address US concerns over forced technology transfer and intellectual property protection.
Earlier on Thursday, President Donald Trump vacillated between threatening China and suggesting a deal could still happen.
Trump said that he had received a "beautiful letter" from President Xi Jinping of China and would probably speak to him by phone, but said he was more than happy to keep hitting Beijing with tariffs.
"I have no idea what's going to happen," he said.
"They'll see what they can do, but our alternative is, is an excellent one," Trump added, noting that American tariffs on $250 billion worth of Chinese products were bringing "billions" in to the US government.
Liu, speaking upon his arrival in Washington D.C. on Thursday morning, said: "Much to our regret, we had some problems during our negotiation... China believes that raising tariffs is not a solution to the problems."
China, which has already placed tariffs on nearly all of America's exports, including agriculture products, has vowed to retaliate "in kind" and threatened to respond with additional "countermeasures" if the 25 per cent rate kicks in.