Copper price slides despite Chinese imports at record pace

US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin is in Beijing for trade talks with China

This week he indicated he was open to extending the trade truce depending on progress in Beijing.

In December he postponed plans to hike tariffs on $200 billion of Chinese imports to allow more time for negotiation.

Kudlow provided few details but said the US delegation led by Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer is "covering all ground" ahead of their expected meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping tomorrow.

On Tuesday, Trump suggested he might let the deadline - after which the USA would more than double its tariffs on Chinese goods - "slide for a little while" if talks go well, though he noted that he was not "inclined" to do so.

Trump has repeatedly touted the tariffs imposed a year ago, notably on US$250 billion in annual imports from China, as a windfall for the U.S. government, paid by Chinese firms, when in fact they are paid by American companies. He is considering pushing the deadline back an additional 60 days, Bloomberg News reported, citing sources.

Chinese officials also are balking at US pressure to accept a mechanism to monitor whether Beijing carries out its promises, said Kuijs.

The two sides said major progress was made in talks last month in Washington, but subsequent comments have been less optimistic, jarring financial markets and amplifying concerns about how the dispute will affect fragile world growth.

China wants to have the tariffs that have been imposed so far removed.

Trump's advisors have described March 1 as a "hard deadline", and the president has said a delay was possible though he preferred not to do so.

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Trump said last week he did not plan to meet with Xi before the March 1 deadline.

'But Sino-US relations are all about the two leaders, and it will ultimately be up to Xi and Trump to come to a deal - or not, ' he wrote Wednesday in a newsletter.

Other possible sites include Beijing or Mr. Trump's Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida, where the two met in April 2017, the USA news website Axios reported, citing Trump administration officials.

The Chinese government has offered few details about the state of negotiations this week.

Chinese trade data released on Thursday showed imports from the United States fell 41.2 per cent from a year earlier to US$9.24 billion, the lowest amount in dollar terms since February 2016. To get the United States to do that, negotiators have been trying to focus attention on their efforts to reduce China's more than US$300 billion trade surplus.

They include ending the forced transfer of American trade secrets, curbing Beijing's industrial subsidies and enforcing intellectual property rights.

January cargoes were the second-highest monthly total on record and on an annualized basis concentrate imports could exceed 22m tonnes in 2019, beating the record set a year ago of 19.7m tonnes.

Mr Green said if a deal is agreed then China will feel as if they have "dodged a bullet" however America might not view it as an end to trade friction.

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