Washington: US President Donald Trump on Thursday stated that his meeting with Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping will not take place anytime before the trade deal deadline that is scheduled till March 2. Speaking to the reporters at the White House, Trump added that his meeting with Xi would take place soon but not before the trade deal deadline. Trump said: “Maybe. Probably too soon.”

Meanwhile, the US has threatened to increase tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese goods to 25 per cent from 10 per cent if a deal is not reached by March 2. According to a China expert at the American Enterprise Institute Derek Scissors, the delay in the meeting does not suggest a deal breaker. However, a trade war is likely to escalate between the countries. Such an escalation would raise prices for companies and consumers on products imported from China and could incite additional retaliation from China.

Trump’s announcement on Thursday was a reversal for the President, who said last week that he planned to meet Xi to resolve any “final issues” before the trade deal.

Both Trump and his top trade negotiator, Robert Lighthizer, have confirmed March 2 as the deadline and clearly stated that there would be no extension of the timeline. The date was mutually agreed upon by the two Presidents during the G20 Summit in Argentina last year.

Meanwhile, the stock market in the US experienced a sharp fall on Thursday after Trump confirmed that he would not meet Xi Jinping anytime before the trade deal deadline. The Dow Jones industrial average declined 220.77 points, or 0.87 per cent, while the Standard & Poor 500-stock index fell 25.56 points, or 0.94 per cent.

The trade talks between Chinese and US officials are however continuing, reported The New York Times. An American delegation that is scheduled to take place in Beijing next week will be headed by Lighthizer and Steven Mnuchin, the Treasury secretary, for more trade talks.

(With IANS inputs)