US President Donald Trump speaks to the press after announcing and initial deal with China at the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, DC October 11, 2019

Washington (AFP) - US President Donald Trump on Friday said Washington and Beijing could be on the cusp of sealing a partial trade deal but reiterated he was in no hurry to sign.

But Trump’s remarks were a rejoinder to statements made hours earlier by Chinese leader Xi Jinping, who told a gathering of dignitaries in Beijing that China wanted a deal but was “not afraid” to fight back if needed.

“We have a deal, potentially very close,” Trump said during a freewheeling interview on Fox News.

“He wants to make a deal much more than I want to make it. I’m not anxious to make it.”

Trump added that revenues from tariffs on Chinese imports were a windfall for the United States, something economists say is in fact weighing on the economy.

The US president’s remarks did little to clarify whether the two parties are in fact making progress in finalizing the text of the “phase one” agreement Trump announced last month.

China has called for a rollback of existing US tariffs as part of the agreement but US officials have said instead they could consider delaying a fresh round of duty increases that are set to take effect on December 15.

The US-trade conflict is now well into its second year, with hundreds of billions of dollars in two-way trade subject to steep duties.