The Trump administration has reached a tentative trade deal with China, according to news reports that come the same day as President Donald Trump tweeted that an agreement was “very close.”

U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Chinese Ambassador to the U.S. Cui Tiankai could sign the agreement as early as Friday or Lighthizer and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin could fly to China for a signing ceremony, according to a Washington Post report.

Trump announced a tentative and partial “phase one” trade agreement with China in October, but that failed to materialize. U.S. and Chinese negotiators have been in contact since then, government and industry officials say.

Lighthizer was in the White House meeting with Trump Thursday, a U.S. government official tells Agri-Pulse.

“Today’s news of a phase 1 trade agreement with China is a welcome sign of progress as we continue to build and strengthen trade equitable relationships across the globe,” Corn Refiners Association President and CEO John Bode said Thursday. “We look forward to reviewing the details of the agreement going forward.

Neither the White House or USTR has released a statement or any details of the potential China deal, but an announcement is expected soon. Both the U.S. and China are expected to either impose new tariffs or raise existing tariff rates by Sunday unless a deal can be reached.

On Oct. 11, when Trump first announced a Phase One agreement, he stressed that China had agreed to import $40 billion to $50 billion of U.S. agricultural goods per year, roughly doubling what the U.S. exported in 2012 – a record $26 billion worth of sales to China.

China has since balked at committing to a specific amount of ag imports, but Ag Secretary Sonny Perdue told Agri-Pulse this week that Trump has been insisting.

“I think he wants commitments,” Perdue said about Trump. “I think the expectation, from an ag purchases perspective, in his mind is pretty firm.”

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