President Trump Says U.S. Has Not Agreed to Tariff Rollback After All
Late Thursday, Reuters reported that the interim agreement between the U.S. and China to roll back tariffs was facing opposition from White House officials and skepticism from outside experts and former advisers. Sources close to the matter told Reuters that rolling back tariffs was not part of the "handshake" deal the two parties made in October, despite what Chinese and U.S. officials confirmed yesterday.
Today, President Trump confirmed those reports, reversing course on the tariff rollback announcement.
“They’d like to have a rollback. I haven’t agreed to anything,” Trump told reporters, according to CNBC. “China would like to get somewhat of a rollback, not a complete rollback because they know I won’t do it.”
— CNBC Now (@CNBCnow) November 8, 2019
According to Reuters, after the rollback agreement was announced, various White House staffers expressed concerns that reducing tariffs would put the U.S. in a worse bargaining position in the negotiations. Former advisers who spoke to Reuters also expressed doubts that the president would be comfortable with such a deal. Additionally, the U.S. Trade Representative's office didn't comment on whether or not the tariff rollbacks would actually happen.
Christian Whiton, a former Trump advisor on East Asia issues, told Reuters that adding the promise of tariff rollbacks as part of the agreement is "very like" Beijing, and that the Chinese government is using "a hyper-aggressive negotiation strategy of trying to redefine reality." Whiton also said he would be "very surprised" if President Trump agreed to the deal as is.
It appears that was the case after all.
While the tariff rollbacks are now in limbo, CNBC reported that the phase one deal is still on the table, with the U.S. and China still working out details of where and when it will be signed.