October 21, 2019 / 12:01 PM / 24 days ago

U.S. Commerce chief: U.S.-China trade deal doesn't need to be inked next month

FILE PHOTO: U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross meets with Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis (not pictured) at the Maximos Mansion in Athens, Greece September 5, 2019. REUTERS/Costas Baltas/File Photo

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The initial U.S.-China trade deal does not need to be finalised next month, the U.S. commerce secretary said on Monday even as President Donald Trump has said he would like to sign the pact when he meet his Chinese counterpart at November’s APEC summit.

“It has to be the right deal, and it doesn’t have to be in November,” Wilbur Ross told Fox Business Network in a television interview. “It’s more critical that it be a proper deal that exactly when it occurs.”

Trump announced the initial “phase one” trade deal at the White House on Oct. 11 alongside Chinese Vice Premier Liu He following two days of talks in Washington with Beijing.

The move suspended a tariff hike planned for this month, but few final details have emerged about the pact, which Trump has said could take up to five weeks to write down.

He has said he would likely sign it when he met with Chinese President Xi Jinping at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit, which will be held mid-November in Santiago.

Asked if he would mind skipping an APEC signing, Ross said: “The key think is to get everything right that we do sign. That’s the important element. That’s what the president is wedded to.

“Whether it’s this day or that day might be interesting to the media, but it isn’t the real game,” he told Fox Business Network.

Reporting by Susan Heavey; Editing by Alison Williams

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