Trump took to Twitter yesterday to announce that China will "immediately" resume purchases of American agriculture products as part of a future deal, but Chinese traders say they have no immediate plans to do so and there is no deal.
BEIJING (Reuters) - China will need to drop its steep tariffs imposed on a range of American farm products earlier this year before it can fulfill its pledge to buy a “very substantial” amount of U.S. goods, said Chinese traders on Monday. [...]
“How can you buy U.S. products if China does not reduce the tariffs? We haven’t made any move yet,” said a trader with a major Chinese trading house. He declined to be identified as he was not allowed to be quoted by media.
If China is actually planning to roll back their retaliatory measures and resume purchases, they haven't done so just yet.
Trump himself has not made any concrete plans to roll back any of his own tariffs, but he reportedly agreed to press the pause button on his plan to increase tariffs on $200 billion in Chinese goods from 10 to 25 percent on January 1st. Trump reportedly agreed to push back the deadline by 90 days, but it's not clear if that's 90 days from today or 90 days from January 1st.
To highlight the fact that there is no real deal yet, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin says it's their job to take Trump's fake deal and turn it into a real deal.
Unfortunately for Mnuchin and the rest of us, the two men leading the negotiation are unhinged ignoramuses.
“This will be a real agreement,” Mnuchin said in an interview on CNBC on Monday from Washington. “There was very specific understanding between President Trump and President Xi and now it’s the team’s job to turn this into a real agreement, that will have deliverables, dates and real commitments.” [...]
White House trade adviser Peter Navarro, who has advocated a harder line against China including tariffs, told NPR that fellow hawk U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer would lead the 90-day talks. Mnuchin told CNBC that President Donald Trump would ultimately oversee the negotiations.
The only way this will not end in a disaster is if Trump backs down, declares victory, and moves on just like he did with NAFTA.
China is never going to give Trump everything he wants, just like Mexico and Canada did not, but it may not matter. It remains to be seen if Trump is willing to head into the 2020 election with his trade war still on the books.