President Donald Trump said Thursday that his administration is "close" to striking a trade deal with China, although he added that he does not know if that hypothetical pact will become reality.
"I think we're very close to doing something with China, but I don't know that I want to do it, because what we have right now is billions and billions of dollars coming into the United States in the form of tariffs or taxes," Trump told reporters upon leaving the White House to travel to the G20 meeting in Argentina.
"I will tell you that I think China wants to make a deal," he continued. "I'm open to making a deal, but frankly, I like the deal we have right now."
Trump made his remarks before meeting on the weekend in Buenos Aires with Chinese President Xi Jinping amid tense trade relations between the two world powers.
Washington in July launched a bold trade war with the Asian giant by imposing increased tariffs on Chinese imports valued at some $34 billion.
In September, the US slapped a 10 percent tariff on an additional $200 billion in Chinese imports, and that levy will rise to 25 percent in January 2019, and Trump threatened to include another $267 billion worth of Chinese exports in the punitive measure.
Beijing has criticized Washington's aggressive trade policy for its "harmful consequences" and has implemented reciprocal measures on more than $60 billion in US imports.
The US in 2017 sold China goods and products valued at $130 billion, while Beijing exported $506 billion worth of goods to the US market.
In an interview with The Wall Street Journal published on Tuesday, Trump said that it was "very unlikely" that he would postpone raising tariffs to 25 percent on $200 billion worth of Chinese imports, as Beijing wants while the two nations continue negotiations.
Trump said that if he does not come to an agreement with Xi to open the Chinese market to US exports, he will continue exerting trade pressure on the world's second largest economy by including goods heretofore not subsumed under the increased tariff structure.
In addition to meeting with Xi, Trump will also meet in Buenos Aires with his Argentine counterpart, Mauricio Macri, and with the leaders of Germany, Turkey, Japan, South Korea and India.
Despite the fact that the White House confirmed earlier this week that Trump would meet in Buenos Aires with Russian President Vladimir Putin, the US leader on Thursday on Twitter said that he had decided to cancel that bilateral meeting after the crisis sparked by Russia's seizure of three Ukrainian naval vessels in the Black Sea.