Trade

“Come Friday there will be tariffs”

JM Ashby
Written by JM Ashby

After delaying an increase in tariffs on Chinese goods from 10 to 25 percent on March 1st, Trump never stated when he would impose higher tariffs and didn't mention it for over two months.

So, why did Trump suddenly decide he would impose higher tariffs this week?

Trump's trade representatives claims that Chinese officials reneged on promises that were never put in writing or even reported to the public.

U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, who has been an advocate for tough structural changes in China, said Beijing had reneged on commitments it had made previously that would have changed the agreement substantially.

“Over the course of the last week or so we have seen ... an erosion in commitments by China,” Lighthizer told reporters. “That in our view is unacceptable.” [...]

“We’re not breaking off talks at this point. But for now ... come Friday there will be tariffs in place,” Lighthizer said.

It's possible that Chinese trade officials backed away from verbal agreements after the home office in Beijing told them the terms were unacceptable, but Robert Lighthizer and virtually everyone else in the White House is an unreliable narrator.

Trump regime officials who've spoken to the press have long claimed that they're made progress on this is that, but the details of what they supposedly agreed to have never been reported.

Sources who spoke to Reuters say the White House is unhappy because Chinese officials have proposed that they deal with economic reforms through administrative and regulatory actions rather than by passing new laws, but we still don't know what those specific reforms would be.

The Trump regime is a notoriously leaky ship so I have speculated that the reason no details of the emerging agreement between the U.S. and China have been leaked to the press is because those details don't exist. No one could leak the details of an agreement for which there is no text.

While the Obama administration was negotiated the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP), the current text of the developing agreement was available to members of Congress at any time, but I doubt the Trump White House has anything to show Congress.

  • muselet

    My guess is that “erosion in commitments” is code for “US negotiators set new conditions China couldn’t or wouldn’t meet.”

    –alopecia