Today, President Deals announced a stunning achievement: after months of tension between the U.S. and China over trade, in one dinner with President Xi Jinpin Trump managed to get China to agree to getting rid of tariffs on American car exports and buying more agricultural products from the U.S. Wow!
Unfortunately, we still have no idea if these tweets have any basis in reality, according to Bloomberg. The White House didn’t add any information to Trump’s announcement, and a spokesperson for the foreign ministry declined to comment at a Beijing press briefing held several hours later. Meanwhile, Trump aides like economic advisor Larry Kudlow and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin tried to backpedal on the president’s statements.
“I’ll call them ‘commitments’ at this point, which are—commitments are not necessarily a trade deal, but it’s stuff that they’re going to look at and presumably implement,” Kudlow told reporters at an official White House briefing that followed TV interviews and informal briefings by him and Mnuchin earlier in the day. [...]
“I think there is a specific understanding that we are now going to turn the agreement the two presidents had into a real agreement in the next 90 days,” Mnuchin told reporters at the White House on Monday. “I’m taking President Xi at his word, at his commitment to President Trump. But they have to deliver on this.” [...]
“We don’t yet have a specific agreement on that,” Kudlow said, apparently contradicting Trump’s tweet on the matter. “But I will just tell you, as an involved participant, we expect those tariffs to go to zero.”
Asked why the auto tariffs weren’t mentioned in statements the U.S. and China issued after the dinner, Kudlow inexplicably insisted that they were. “I don’t agree with that,” he said.
Kudlow also told reporters that China and the U.S. had declared a 90-day trade truce that would begin on January 1st. Turns out that was incorrect—the White House says the trade truce actually began two days ago, on December 1st, Axios reports. Whoops! You’ll get ‘em next time, Larry.
Everyone is at least in agreement that there is as of yet no written deal between the U.S. and China on ending the trade war.
“That’s what happens when you don’t have the detailed negotiations going into the summit,” Bonnie Glaser, and expert on China at the Center for Strategic and International Studies told Bloomberg. “It’s risky. There’s certainly no guarantees that it will produce the outcomes that we want.”
Chinese officials haven’t responded to Bloomberg’s request for comment.