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Speaking to reporters at the White House, he said that while China was interested in striking a deal, "I don't know if I want to do it" and "I like the deal we have now".

U.S. President Donald Trump has arrived in the Argentine capital of Buenos Aires to attend the two-day G20 Summit, his first visit to Latin America since he came to power nearly two years ago. "I am open to making a deal but frankly I like the deal that we have right now", he said. The President has openly expressed his fondness for hearing differing points of view on trade, and has fostered the intra-administration disputes that have marked his policy toward China.

But Trump told the Wall Street Journal on Monday that he would go ahead with a scheduled increase in punitive tariffs on $200 billion in Chinese imports if there is no deal in Argentina.

Austrialian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has implored China and the use this weekend's G-20 leaders' summit in Buenos Aires to end their trade war, saying the dispute is now posing a real threat to the global economy.

"Many people look at us and have doubts regarding these summits and what they're good for".

An unsuccessful meeting, however, could see that number double, with the United States levying tariffs on all $US500 billion or so of Chinese goods that come into the U.S. each year.

The two had been set for bilateral talks on Saturday at the G20 in Buenos Aires.

That had led to greater confidence among some advisers that Saturday's dinner with Xi could produce a breakthrough, even though no official has been willing to explicitly say they expect the two men to come to an agreement.

Trump raises prospect of import vehicle tariff after GM cutback plan
The president said that he was "very tough" with GM CEO Mary Barra when speaking with her after the announcement. But companies are widely expected to pass along the cost of higher tariffs to American consumers.

Cell phones and computers, among China's biggest exports to the United States, have been spared as the administration has sought to minimize the impact on US consumers.

In the short term, US tariffs and the trade war would increase uncertainty for Chinese investment and durables consumption, according to Goldman.

Even if Trump's import tax went up to 25 percent, as the president has threatened, moving iPhone assembly to US shores could cost much more.

"We don't have to agree on all issues, and it wouldn't be possible anyway, but we need to talk", he said, adding that "it's not only in the interests of our two countries, but the entire world".

On Wednesday, Trump said he canceled his planned meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin, "Based on the fact that the ships and sailors have not been returned to Ukraine from Russia".

"I think the most likely scenario is that [Chinese President] Xi Jinping doesn't offer big enough concessions to Trump, and so nothing much comes of the G20 meeting", said Julian Evans-Pritchard from Capital Economics. Merkel's office said Friday that she and a small delegation, including the finance minister, took a different government plane to Madrid and then boarded a commercial flight to Buenos Aires.

But now "the fact that the G-20 is taking place in South America for the first time is nearly beside the point", Shifter said, noting that Macri has lowered expectations for the event.

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