US officials said they are still considering the fate of tariffs scheduled to kick in on December 15 on about $156 billion worth of Chinese goods, which cover some key consumer technology products such as cell phones and laptop computers.
The president turned to tariffs past year to force China to abandon trade practices, especially in the high-technology area, that disadvantaged American companies.
Removing tariffs "will help stabilize market expectations, benefit the economies of the two countries and the world economy, benefit producers, and benefit consumers", the spokesman said.
The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said it was still possible the "phase one" agreement aimed at ending a damaging trade war would not be reached, but a deal was more likely than not.
Investors have already begun anticipating some type of resolution.
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A person familiar with China's negotiating position said it was pressing Washington to "remove all tariffs as soon as possible".
The conflicting reports come as President Trump preps for meetings with his Chinese counterpart in the coming weeks to continue hammering out a resolution to a months-long trade spat, which has seen the two powers impose billions in levies on each other's goods.
China's exports declined less than expected in October as optimism rose about an interim trade deal with the US, while imports contracted for a sixth straight month.
"President Trump's tariffs are the centerpiece of his confrontation with the Chinese Communist Party - and they have worked brilliantly, forcing the Chinese to the table", said Steve Bannon, the president's former chief strategist.
China's imports of American soybeans and other goods tumbled 26.4 percent in the first nine months of this year following tariff hikes and orders to importers to find other suppliers.
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Without laying out a timetable, the Chinese Commerce Ministry said the two countries had agreed to cancel the tariffs in phases.
Gao did not specify what tariffs might be dropped, or when.
United States President Donald Trump yesterday quashed hopes that the U.S. and China had reached a deal to remove the additional tariffs on each other's goods in phases, saying he had not agreed to do so. But a lot of tariffs remain in place including a 15% tariff on an additional $110 billion in goods that took effect September 1. Shares of companies with close ties to China's vast manufacturing base, such as semiconductor manufacturers and retailers, also rose. Trump also wants China to vastly increase its purchases of US farm products. Though worst quarterly figures since 1992, it is still within 6.0-6.5% annual target.
Trump said China agreed to buy up to $50 billion of American farm goods.
Uncertainty about the fate of the trade negotiations between the United States and China kept markets on their toes on Friday, with European stocks benchmarks mimicking their Asian peers and retreating from the previous session's highs.
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