President Donald Trump said Tuesday that it might be better to wait until after the 2020 election to strike a trade deal with China.
"In some ways, I like the idea of waiting until after the election for the China deal, but they want to make a deal now and we will see whether or not the deal is going to be right," Trump told reporters in London. The U.S. general election is set to take place in November 2020.
When asked if he had a deadline for the deal, he added: "I have no deadline, no … In some ways I think it is better to wait until after the election, if you want to know the truth."
Washington and Beijing have imposed tariffs on billions of dollars' worth of one another's goods since the start of 2018, battering financial markets and souring business and consumer sentiment. The next tariff deadline is Dec. 15. If the two sides cannot pen down a deal by then, additional U.S. levies on Chinese exports will go into effect.
Criticizing previous U.S. administrations, Trump claimed China had been "ripping off the United States for many, many years" and this had been down to a "lack of leadership."
In reaction to the comments, Dow futures lost over 100 points on Tuesday morning and turned negative as traders digested the increased likelihood of a delay to any deal.
Trump said the trade deal with China was dependent only on one thing — whether he himself wanted to make it.
"We are doing very well with China right now, and we can do even better with the flick of a pen," said Trump, before claiming that China, in turn, was "having the worst year by far in 57 years."
Trump said after China had targeted U.S. farmers, his administration decided to dole out $28 billion over a two-year period to make sure the agriculture sector wasn't hit in the pocket. "That got them whole," claimed Trump.
—CNBC's Sam Meredith and Saheli Roy Choudhury contributed to this article.