Possible Failed Deal Tied to Previous Failed Deal

JM Ashby
Written by JM Ashby

You probably recall that Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping reached an agreement an on informal trade "truce" earlier this year which fell apart a few weeks after the two leaders met on the sidelines of the G-20 summit in June. Trump accused China of walking away from terms he invented in his own mind and imposed more tariffs on Chinese goods.

Now, if this report from Bloomberg is accurate, Trump regime officials are using that failed deal as a basis for the text of Trumps "greatest and biggest deal ever."

If the Trump regime agrees to roll back any of his tariffs, it will be based on levels previously discussed in late May.

The two sides, who are locked in tough -- perhaps final -- negotiations on a phase-one pact, are discussing linking the size of tariff rollbacks to the preliminary terms set in that failed May deal, according to the people, two of whom said the White House is still debating the precise percentage internally. The Chinese have demanded that all tariffs imposed after May be removed immediately and then tariffs imposed before that be lifted gradually, according to one of the people.

The duties under discussion for a potential rollback include the initial tariffs on some $250 billion in Chinese goods that President Donald Trump imposed last year, according to two people.

To be frank, this report from Bloomberg may be accurate insofar as regime sources say this happening, but I don't necessarily believe their source's implication that the Trump regime is inches away from rolling back tariffs that were imposed last year. It's difficult to square that with Trump's fresh threat to increase his tariffs yet again and his general reluctance to accept any deal that includes him making concessions.

In any event, I think it's worth recalling why the previous "truce" fell apart because it fell apart for a very familiar reason.

Trump abandoned the summer truce and imposed more tariffs on Chinese goods because China did not make large scale agricultural purchases that they never actually promised. And now, here in the late fall and early winter, Trump is once again promising large scale purchases of American farm goods that China has not formally or even informally committed to.

The two sides are using leaks and statements to the media to manage expectations and negotiate in public so it's difficult to assess the veracity of almost any report that claims progress is being made in talks or that they're close to deal. We can't assert that a deal is going to happen or definitely not going to happen, but I'm pretty sure whatever happens will not be the full story and won't convey the truth of the matter.

  • muselet

    Sound familiar?

    To many longtime Trump watchers, the president’s poor performance at the diplomatic negotiating table is all of a piece with his overhyped career in business. “Donald’s deal-making skills are a wonderful figment of his own imagination,” said Alan Lapidus, the former architect to the Trump Organization who has known the president since he was a teenager and just starting in the family real estate business.

    “His negotiating skill consists of screaming and threatening,” Lapidus told Foreign Policy. “Donald has no subtlety and no sense of humor. It’s bludgeon, bludgeon, bludgeon.”


    Michael D’Antonio, a Trump biographer who interviewed him many times, agrees with Lapidus that there is no discernible difference in the way Trump negotiates today, as president, compared to his career in business. “His style involves a hostile attitude and a bullying method designed to wring every possible concession out of the other side while maximizing his own gain,” D’Antonio said. “As he explained to me, he’s not interested in ‘win-win’ deals, only in ‘I win’ outcomes. When I asked if he ever left anything on the table as a sign of goodwill so that he might do business with the same party in the future he said no, and pointed out that there are many people in the world he can work with, one at a time.”

    Much more at the link. It’s depressing but informative.