China’s Commerce Ministry said on Thursday that the U.S. had agreed to roll back tariffs as part of an interim trade accord, The Wall Street Journal reported, but on Friday, President Donald Trump said he had agreed to no such thing.
“I haven’t agreed to anything,” Trump told reporters at the White House. “But we’re getting along very well with China. They want to make a deal. Frankly, they want to make a deal a lot more than I do.”
Trump said China “would like to have a rollback” but understands that he will not agree to a complete reversal on tariffs.
Some were surprised that the president would go before cameras and spout such invective at this stage of negotiations; others said Trump’s comments “may be less contradictory than they appear, noting that tariffs are the main leverage held by the U.S. and that Mr. Trump wouldn’t want to commit to lifting them until the Chinese have agreed to other terms the U.S. is seeking, such as increased agricultural purchases and new rules to prevent currency manipulation.”
The Journal noted that China’s insistence on a complete rollback of tariffs was a sticking point as trade talks fell apart earlier this year.
Trump and other administration officials have expressed numerous times that a complete rollback is unlikely.
“I like our situation very much,” Trump said on Friday, regarding tariff revenue that the U.S. is bringing in; however, he indicated he is still inclined to make a deal.
“They want to make a deal much more than I do, but we can have a deal,” he said.