China officials on Friday canceled plans to visit American farmers next week and were expected to cut short their trip to the US.
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 the Montana Farm Bureau Federation and the Nebraska Agriculture Department. CNBC first reported the cancellations.
“We were contacted by a delegation of Chinese agriculture officials yesterday morning who said they were visiting Montana next week,” said Rebecca Colnar, a representative for the Montana Farm Bureau Federation. “This morning, we received word that they would no longer be visiting Montana but would instead be returning to China sooner than originally planned.”
Trump administration officials were meeting with their Chinese counterparts in Washington on Friday to lay the framework for future negotiations. Deputy-level talks were 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 said it was exempting 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, Colnar said. “Therefore, they have to make their visit to beautiful Montana in the future.”
Trump signaled to reporters on Friday that 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 abruptly broke down. Each country has since slapped further tariffs on thousands of the other’s products and pledged to target more by the end of the year.