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During a meeting with French President Emmanuel Macron at the White House, Trump stressed his tough stance on reducing the USA trade deficit with China.

US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer will head to China for trade talks within days, President Donald Trump announced on Tuesday. "I think China is very serious; we're very serious".

He said the two sides had a "very good chance" of reaching an agreement. While he's met with Chinese counterparts in Washington and during G-20 meetings in Europe, Mnuchin hasn't traveled to meet them on their home turf.

Trump has authorised tariffs on about US$50 billion (S$66 billion) in Chinese exports in response to China's alleged theft of American intellectual property.

Christine Lagarde, managing director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), Saturday called on the United States and China to resolve trade tensions through rules-based multilateral institutions.

Mnuchin has expressed optimism differences can be settled without a trade war, telling reporters Sunday he was "cautiously optimistic." That creates an unfair price advantage for Chinese companies that sell finished steel wheels and safes to the US, and so far have escaped the lengthy tariff list, the companies said.