China cancels plans to visit with US farmers next week

09/20/2019 | Business Insider USA | Gina Heeb
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Chinese negotiators cut short trade meetings with the US on Friday and canceled plans to visit American farmers next week.

China officials on Friday canceled plans to visit American farmers next week and were expected to cut a trip to the US short.

Officials said they had to return to China earlier than planned and would no longer visit agricultural producers in the Midwest next week, according to Rebecca Colnar, a spokesperson at the Montana Farm Bureau Federation. CNBC first reported the cancellation.

"We were contacted by a delegation of Chinese agriculture officials yesterday morning who said they were visiting Montana next week," said Colnar. "This morning, we received word that they would no longer be visiting Montana but would instead, be returning to China sooner than originally planned."

The report came as Trump administration officials met with their Chinese counterparts in Washington on Friday to lay the framework for future negotiations. Deputy-level talks were still ongoing as of 3:15 p.m. ET, the Office of the US Trade Representative said in an email.

The planned visits to US farmlands had been seen as a gesture of goodwill to the Trump administration, which has sought to pressure China to resume purchases of agricultural products. Earlier on Friday, the Trump administration had exempted hundreds of Chinese products from tariffs.

The reasoning behind the change of plans was not immediately clear. The White House did not respond to an email requesting comment.

"I have to regrettably tell that according to updated agenda of the Chinese delegation, Vice Minister Han and his team have to return to China earlier than previously planned," an official at the Chinese embassy told the Montana bureau, according to Colnar. "Therefore, they have to make their visit to beautiful Montana in the future."

Speaking to reporters on Friday, Trump signaled he was not in a rush to complete a trade deal with China. The president has repeatedly said that the more than yearlong dispute could run into 2020 or beyond.

"I'm not looking for a partial deal," Trump said. "We're looking for the big deal. We've taken it to this level."

Just as the two sides were thought to be on the cusp of a deal in May, talks between the two sides abruptly broke down. They have since slapped further tariffs on thousands of each other's products and pledged to target more by the end of the year.

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