Trump regime officials and Trump himself have repeatedly claimed that they're "close" to signing "phase one" of Trump's "greatest and biggest deal ever," but Trump's comments give us a little more reasons to doubt that's true.
While they claim to be close to a deal, Trump has resume his strategy of public attacking, threatening, and ultimately blackmailing China with the prospect of more tariffs.
Trump spoke in New York yesterday where he said he would increase his tariffs again if they don't sign a deal.
“If we don’t make a deal, we’re going to substantially raise those tariffs,” he said Tuesday in a speech to the Economic Club of New York. “They’re going to be raised very substantially. And that’s going to be true for other countries that mistreat us too.”
China is “dying” to make a trade deal with the U.S., Trump said, adding that he’d sign it only if it’s good for American companies and workers. Still, he said, “we’re close — a significant Phase 1 deal could happen, could happen soon.”
Trump's top trade adviser Peter Navarro -- or Ron Vara if you prefer -- recently accused China of "negotiating in public" by announcing that they had reached a deal to roll back tariffs, but isn't that exactly what Trump is doing here? Isn't that what he always does?
If anything, Trump's "negotiations" seem to play out in public more than they do in private.
In any case, I was nearly convinced that Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping would sign a deal in early December, but now I'm not so sure. I think it's still more likely than not that the two sides will sign on to some kind of temporary truce that does not roll back existing tariffs, but Trump's comments remind us that he could always blow the whole thing up on any given day.
Trump's threat to raise tariffs on other unnamed "countries that mistreat us" is appropriately vague given that global trade is extremely favorable to American consumers and we're not actually being mistreated.