White House economic advisor Larry Kudlow said Thursday that the administration is hoping for a trade agreement with China but much work remains before anything is finalized.
"The president has indicated that he's optimistic with respect to a potential trade deal," Kudlow, director of the National Economic Council, said on Fox Business. "But we've got a pretty sizable distance to go here."
The comments coincided with a sharp drop in the stock market that sent the Dow industrials down more than 200 points as Wall Street waits to see whether Washington and Beijing can meet a March 2, when another round of tariffs could be levied.
Kudlow's comments tempered a statement Wednesday from Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, who told CNBC that the talks with China have been "very productive." However, Mnuchin also said a "wide range of issues" remains to be worked out.
Mnuchin along with U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer will head to Beijing next week for another round of talks with Vice Premier Liu He.
Kudlow characterized previous talks involving the three leaders as having "a good vibe to them."
"We covered a tremendous amount of ground and all the major issues," he said. "All of those things are on the table and discussed in some detail. I think those conversations are going to continue."
The two sides are working on a number of issues, in particular opening China to more American products and halting forced technology transfers from U.S. companies. President Donald Trump has set reducing the trade deficit between the U.S. and China as a major economic priority.