The Chinese official said Thursday that the two sides had agreed to a phased cancellation of their tariff hikes as part of an emerging agreement.
Trump’s pushback suggested that negotiations haven’t progressed as far as hoped as the world’s two biggest economies struggle to negotiate an end to their trade war, which has hurt both economies.
“They’d like to have a rollback,” Trump told reporters at the White House, referring to the Chinese. “I haven’t agreed to anything.”
The two sides have been working on an initial “Phase 1” deal that was announced Oct. 12 but that still isn’t final.
Financial markets in the U.S. and globally rallied Thursday at the prospect of an agreement to wind down the U.S.-China trade fight, but then fell Friday on Trump’s comments. The Dow Jones industrial average dropped 48 points, or 0.2%, in midday trading.
Trump repeated his claims that China wants a deal more than the United States and that the United States benefits from extra tariff revenue. The president says the tariffs are paid by China, but studies conducted since the duties were imposed find that Americans businesses and consumers are paying them.
“Frankly, they want to make a deal a lot more than I do,” Trump said. “I’m very happy right now. We’re taking in billions of dollars.”
A private sector source with knowledge of the talks said Thursday that the United States has agreed to suspend the duties Trump threatened to impose December 15th on about $160 billion of Chinese imports as part of the agreement. But there is dissension in the White House about whether and by how much to roll back 15% duties on another $112 billion of goods imposed Sept. 1.
Larry Kudlow also told Bloomberg News Thursday that if a deal was reached, it would include reduced tariffs.
“The White House never speaks with one voice,” Mary Lovely, a trade economist at the Peterson Institute for International Economics, said Thursday.