Trump departs Thursday for the Group of 20 summit in Argentina, where the homebody commander in chief will spend just 48 hours on the ground.
In addition to meeting with Xi, Trump will also meet in Buenos Aires with his Argentine counterpart, Mauricio Macri, and with the leaders of Germany, Turkey, Japan, South Korea and India.
"This is not a good year for multilateralism", said a German government source about talks on a final statement that the leaders are due to issue at the end of their meeting on Saturday.
"We can not pretend that ongoing trade tensions do not pose real threats to the global economy", he said. Wall Street edged lower on Thursday amid jitters over Trump's meeting with Xi.
"Watch this space, as he [Trump] would say", he said. He has also said that he thinks the US and China will reach an amicable trade agreement.
"Trump needs a pick-me-up right now given that economic news is not that great and the dream of 4 percent GDP growth is pretty much off the table and even 3 percent is a real long shot", he said.
The rising tensions have seen the two countries hit each other with tit-for-tariffs on goods worth hundreds of billions of dollars in sectors from automobiles to agriculture and energy, stymieing trade and redrawing global supply chains. He also suggested that if talks were unproductive, he would implement tariffs on even more Chinese goods. "And I would expect that to be the case again", said Matthew Goodman, who oversaw Asia-Pacific economic issues for the Obama White House.
"I really don't know, but I will tell you that I think China wants to make a deal", he continued.
The key representatives in the Chinese delegation remain unknown.
Only days before the summit in Argentina, President Trump said current tariff levels on $200bn (£157bn) of Chinese imports would rise as planned. Although he now has 3,000 manufacturing workers in China, he plans to open a factory with 500 in Vietnam so his business remains financially attractive to US buyers. It recently restricted American firms from selling parts to a Chinese company over national security concerns.
"Australians have always prospered from this approach".
The 10 percent U.S. tariffs are set to climb to 25 percent in January.
International Monetary Fund boss Christine Lagarde this week added her voice to those of world leaders.
"If we do not show concrete progress, our worldwide meetings become useless and even counterproductive", he said. He wants the European Union and Japan to make trade concessions including lowering the EU's 10 percent tariff on imported vehicles and cutting non-tariff barriers. "Thus, it is imperative that all countries steer clear of new trade barriers, while reversing recent tariffs".
"I hope that the United States and China could move towards each other and work hard to achieve positive results in the meeting", Gao said without elaborating.
"This could be a calculated tactic to continue pressuring China with escalation to raise the stakes for negotiations, but the President has yet to back down on his announced plans in the dispute", said Ed Mills, an analyst with Raymond James, in a note to clients.
"There has to be a recognition that these things haven't happened in isolation", Morrison told The Australian Financial Review. The fact is that the United States is engaged and does walk into the room in these forums and put forward an agenda and proposals and initiatives and incentives for advancing the agenda.