- President Donald Trump said Friday that the US had no current plans to lift tariffs against China.
- The Trump administration sent conflicting messages on trade negotiations with China at the end of the week.
- The public divide sowed further uncertainty among businesses and investors.
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President Donald Trump said Friday that the US had no current plans to lift tariffs against China, dimming newfound hopes for a quick deal to defuse trade tensions between the largest economies.
“They’d like to have a rollback,” he told reporters outside the White House. “I haven’t agreed to anything.”
The Trump administration has sent conflicting messages on the first stage of a trade agreement, which was announced last month. The partial deal included unspecified commitments on agriculture and rules on intellectual property and financial services, Trump said, but has not been put to paper.
Earlier Friday, White House Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham said she thought some tariffs could be lifted as part of an agreement.
“We’re very optimistic for some kind of a deal, and I imagine if we reach one then some tariffs could be lifted,” Grisham said, adding that she did not want to get ahead of ongoing negotiations.
But White House trade adviser Peter Navarro said late Thursday that while planned escalations could be cancelled as part of an agreement, there were no current stipulations that lifted previous tariffs. The White House declined to comment to Business Insider.
“There is no agreement at this time to remove any of the existing tariffs as a condition of the phase one deal,” Navarro, one of the most hawkish administration officials, told Fox Business Network. “The only person who can make that decision is President Donald J. Trump, and it’s as simple as that.”
Navarro derided comments that had been made by Chinese Commerce Ministry spokesperson Gao Feng hours earlier. At a weekly press conference, Gao said the two sides had “simultaneously” agreed to remove additional tariffs in unspecified phases.
“The spectacle of the Chinese propaganda press putting out information like that, they’re just negotiating in public, trying to push us in a direction, but the president makes these decisions,” Navarro said.
Other administration officials have taken a more optimistic tone. The public divide sowed further uncertainty among businesses and investors, who have struggled to plan over the past year in the face of trade tensions.
“If there’s a phase one trade deal, there are going to be tariff agreements and concessions,” Larry Kudlow, an economic adviser to President Donald Trump, told Bloomberg earlier Thursday.