uring the G-20 summit in Argentina over the weekend, leaders of the US and China met over dinner and purportedly came to a temporary ceasefire agreement over their escalating trade war, though statements released by the two sides afterward don’t really agree on what was allegedly agreed upon.
Most significantly, according to the White House, threatened tariffs on $200 billion of Chinese imports will not be raised on January 1st of next year, but if a deal is not reached within 90 days, the tariffs will be raised to 25 percent. However, China’s own statement doesn’t make mention of any deadline, only declaring that no more higher tariffs will be raised.
Bloomberg provides an interesting breakdown of the many other telling differences between the two statements, in which each side makes its own vague pronouncements about what the other side has vowed to do: the US says that China will purchase “very substantial” farm products from America; China says that the two countries will work toward scrapping all tariffs and reaching a “win-win” agreement.
Confused about what exactly Xi and Trump promised each other yesterday?
— Peter Martin (@PeterMartin_PCM) December 2, 2018
Apart from the 90-day deadline, the two statements contain nothing that could be considered definite. Instead, they contain a number of vague promises which either side could easily wiggle out of. Reportedly, there was no document signed by the two sides following the dinner.
Meanwhile, US President Donald Trump himself has given his own spin on the agreement which doesn’t seem to square with either side’s statement, describing the agreement as “one of the largest deals ever made” and declaring that China would be “opening up” and “getting rid of tariffs.” Earlier today, Trump tweeted that China had agreed to “reduce and remove” tariffs on cars being imported into China from the US.
China has agreed to reduce and remove tariffs on cars coming into China from the U.S. Currently the tariff is 40%.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 3, 2018
China has not yet confirmed Trump’s tweet. In fact, the 40 percent tariff on US vehicle imports was raised from 15 percent by Beijing back in July in response to Trump’s own tariffs against Chinese imports. So much winning.