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White House adviser says China trade deal signing expected soon

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The White House’s trade adviser on Monday said the U.S.-China Phase 1 trade deal would likely be signed in the next week, but said confirmation would come from President Donald Trump or the U.S. Trade Representative.

White House trade adviser Peter Navarro, in an interview on Fox News, cited a report that Chinese Vice Premier Liu He would visit this week to sign the deal, but did not confirm it.

“Washington has sent an invitation and Beijing has accepted it,” the South China Morning Post (SCMP) on Monday quoted a source as saying.

Representatives for the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative and the White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the report, which said the Chinese delegation was likely to stay in the United States until the middle of next week.

China’s Ministry of Commerce and its Foreign Ministry both declined to comment on Tuesday on the SCMP report.

“Never believe reports on anonymous sources. Get it from President Trump or … (U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer,” Navarro told Fox.

“We’ll probably have a signing on that within the next week or so – we’re just waiting for the translation,” he added.

Hopes for a U.S.-China trade deal helped keep world stocks positive on Monday, although neither side has released many specific details of the agreement, and no text has been released yet.

Navarro said the deal would be made public “as quickly as possible,” and that he did no expect any snags to hold it up. “Basically you need to get it translated into the Chinese and double-checked so both versions match,” he added.

The 86-page agreement includes details on intellectual property, “a good start” on forced technology transfers and “some good language on currency manipulation,” Navarro said.

Trump first announced plans for the initial trade pact in October, and U.S. and Chinese negotiators have spent weeks finalizing the so-called Phase 1 deal, which comes in lieu of the massive trade agreement that the world’s two largest economies had initially sought.

Lighthizer this month said representatives from both countries would sign the pact during the first week of January.

Last week, Trump told reporters he and Chinese President Xi Jinping would eventually have a signing ceremony for the agreement. Trump gave no further details, but said the deal was done and being translated.

Days earlier, U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said the deal was finished but was undergoing a technical review.

(Reporting by Kanishka Singh in Bengaluru and Heather Timmons in Washington; Additional reporting by Steve Holland in Palm Beach, Florida, Tim Ahmann and Doina Chiacu in Washington, Ben Blanchard and Yawen Chen in Beijing; Writing by Susan Heavey; Editing by Kevin Liffey and Nick Zieminski)

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