“totally done, absolutely”

Written by SK Ashby

Trump's trade representative Robert Lighthizer appeared on CBS's "Face the Nation" yesterday where he said Trump's wimpy deal with China is "totally done, absolutely," but, technically, that's not true.

Chinese officials who spoke to Reuters say the language of "phase one" is still being reviewed and subject to change and if the two sides sign it, the earliest that could happen is in January.

“(The deal) is a phased achievement, and does not mean that the trade dispute is settled once and for all,” said a source in Beijing with knowledge of the situation. That source said signing and implementing the pact remained the main priority for success.

Several Chinese officials told Reuters the wording of the agreement remained a delicate issue and care was needed to ensure expressions used in text did not re-escalate tensions and deepen differences.

Apparently recognizing that this is not "totally done," as Lighthizer insists, Trump's top economic adviser Larry Kudlow said they will impose the tariffs they just canceled if there are any disputes.

(Reuters) - The United States could levy tariffs against China if there are any disputes, White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow said about the U.S.-China "phase one" trade agreement announced on Friday.

"If it's not resolvable, some economic valuation will be ascribed and actions will be taken. No question, there could be tariff actions taken as an enforcement tool," Kudlow said in an interview with CNBC.

One can easily imagine a near-future scenario, like in the spring as the 2020 campaign heats up, in which China does not meet expectations that aren't actually coded into the language of the deal and Trump responds by imposing new tariffs on them for not doing so.

It would not be the first time Trump has escalated because China did meet commitments that only he proposed. It wouldn't be the second time. It wouldn't even be the third time.