Trump's top trade adviser Peter Navarro and another adviser to Trump both said there is "no agreement" with China to roll back tariffs that are already on the books, but that didn't necessarily settle the matter.
Then again, neither does this.
Trump himself says there is no agreement.
“China would like to get somewhat of a rollback, not a complete rollback, ‘cause they know I won’t do it,” Trump said. “I haven’t agreed to anything.”
He said China wanted to make a deal more than he did, adding that the U.S. tariffs were generating “billions of dollars” for U.S. coffers. “I’m very happy right now. We’re taking in billions of dollars,” he said.
U.S. stocks dipped after Trump’s comments, and the dollar fell against the yen.
I honestly don't know what's more likely; that China announced an agreement that was never reached or if the Trump regime agreed to something and then backed out of it. I'm learning toward the latter.
In any case, Trump also said something curious that could actually doom any chance of signing a deal before the end of the year.
Trump also said the trade deal with China, if completed, would be signed in the United States. “Assuming we’d get it... it could be Iowa or farm country or some place like that. It will be in our country,” he said.
Government officials have told the press that the most likely venue for signing a deal that China could agree to on such short notice is London where NATO will hold an annual gathering on December 3rd and 4th.
If Trump insists on signing a deal inside the United States rather than abroad, it's anyone's guess if that could actually happen before the end of the year.
The political implications of Trump insisting on signing a deal in "farm country" are obvious even if whatever he signs does not lead to fewer tariffs on American farm goods. The policy doesn't matter anywhere near as much as the optics do for Trump.
The developments of the past 24 hours demonstrate why I'm necessarily skeptical of every seemingly-positive development in trade talks that involve Trump. Good things usually only happen in his absence and I suspect that's what happened yesterday.