Trump says US, China trade talks to be 'successful'

US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer (C) is expected to return to Beijing for a new round of trade talks, according to the Wall Street Journal (AFP Photo/GREG BAKER)

Washington (AFP) - US President Donald Trump on Wednesday held out hope the current trade talks with China will be a success, and said an announcement on the status was due "shortly."

The president's remarks followed a report by The Wall Street Journal saying US and Chinese officials are tentatively working toward signing ceremony for a new trade agreement as soon as late May.

"I have a feeling we'll be successful," Trump told reporters at the White House. "That's moving along quite well."

"You'll be hearing about it very, very shortly."

Citing an unnamed source, The Journal said US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer was expected to travel to Beijing for a new round of face-to-face talks the week of April 29.

The USTR office declined to comment on the report.

During shuttle diplomacy in recent months, US and Chinese officials have alternated between projecting optimism and warning that success in their high-stakes talks is not guaranteed.

But a key US demand -- a binding enforcement mechanism to prevent Beijing from backsliding on its commitments -- has been virtually agreed, US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said this month.

The two sides have exchanged tariffs on more than $360 billion in two-way trade since last year, weighing on both countries' manufacturing sectors and unnerving global stock markets.

To help reduce Beijing's soaring US trade surplus, Chinese officials have offered to increase purchases of American farm goods and energy exports.

But analysts say it remains unclear how far China will go in meeting US demands for fundamental changes in industrial policy that could weaken the communist party's hold on power.