President Trump said Friday that he had not agreed to lift tariffs on China as part of completing “phase one” of the negotiations with Beijing, contradicting an assertion made by Beijing Thursday.
“They would like to have a rollback. I haven’t agreed to anything,” Trump told reporters Friday at the White House.
The White House and Beijing have been working to reach a conclusion on a trade agreement first announced on Oct. 11. The two sides have reportedly made progress on most issues except for intellectual property transfers. Beijing has been pushing the White House to abandon plans to impose new tariffs starting on Dec. 15 of 15% on $156 billion worth of Chinese goods and to roll back some existing tariffs. Trump and other White House officials have indicated that the tariff threats are needed to ensure Beijing sticks to the agreement.
On Thursday, Beijing said that the White House had agreed to a rollback. “If the phase one deal is signed, China and the U.S. should remove the same proportion of tariffs simultaneously based on the content of the deal,” Chinese Commerce Ministry spokesman Gao Feng told reporters. “This is what [we] agreed on following careful and constructive negotiations over the past two weeks.”
Trump officials, however, did not agree. “There is no agreement at this time to remove any of the existing tariffs as a condition of the phase one deal,” Peter Navarro, Trump’s trade policy adviser, told Fox Business later that day.