Contradicting earlier reports that Washington and Beijing had struck a tentative deal to scale back tariffs, hawkish US trade adviser Peter Navarro put a damper on the news, insisting there was no agreement as of yet.
Despite a statement from China’s Trade Ministry earlier on Thursday confirming that the two sides agreed to roll back their tariffs in stages, the White House adviser said nothing would be finalized until President Trump gave his formal approval.
“There is no agreement at this time to remove any of the existing tariffs as a condition of the phase one deal, and the only person who can make that decision is President Donald J. Trump and it’s as simple as that,” Navarro said in an appearance on ‘Lou Dobbs Tonight.’
Markets perked upon the initial reports of an agreement, with the DOW soaring just shy of 250 points, while the S&P 500 gained over 17 points and companies such as Boeing and Caterpillar saw stock windfalls of at least 1.2 percent.
Navarro, however, rejected the Chinese statement outright, insisting it was “propaganda” designed to “push” Washington toward an outcome favorable to Beijing.
“The spectacle of the Chinese propaganda press putting out information like that, they’re just negotiating in public, trying to push us in a direction, but the president makes these decisions,” he said.
Behind the scenes, the White House trade adviser has reportedly fought the prospective agreement tooth-and-nail, objecting to the removal of certain provisions on intellectual property that featured in earlier versions of the deal. According to a former administration official, however, Navarro’s efforts have so far been unsuccessful, telling CNBC that the adviser was “alone on this one.”
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.
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