Trump's China auto tariffs claim sows confusion

Marco Green
December 4, 2018

US President Donald Trump boasted Monday that US relations have taken a "BIG leap forward" with his meeting in Argentina with President Xi Jinping.

In a briefing to reporters, he also said the USA did not yet have a "specific agreement" on auto tariffs.

"They put on the table an offer of over $1.2 trillion in additional commitments".

China has not confirmed any of the details Mnuchin and Kudlow gave. "This is the first time that we have a commitment from them that this will be a real agreement".

"The history here with China promises is not very good".

"We don't yet have a specific agreement on that", Kudlow said, apparently contradicting Trump's tweet on the matter.

"They can not slow walk this, stall this, meander this". A White House official said it started on December 1. However, at least one major Chinese state media outlet mentioned it on its account on Chinese social media platform WeChat, referring to the White House statement.

Asked why the auto tariffs weren't mentioned in statements the USA and China issued after the dinner, Kudlow inexplicably insisted that they were.

The temporary freeze on further hostilities in the trade war between the United States and China had sparked a global rally in equity markets on Monday, pushing MSCI's all-country world index up 1.3 percent. As part of that the USA said it had agreed to hold off on raising tariffs Jan 1, while negotiations took place. The US automaker said it was "encouraged by the trade discussions" as it awaited more detail.

Lighthizer is an experienced trade negotiator who just completed a new agreement with Canada and Mexico.

Larry Kudlow, director of the White House National Economic Council, told reporters that electric vehicle subsidies "will all end in the near future", adding 2020 or 2021 when asked for a timeline.

The White House said China will agree to purchase a not yet agreed upon, but very substantial, amount of agricultural, energy, industrial, and other products from the United States.

China is poised to start immediately purchasing more US agricultural products, Trump said in a Monday tweet that China agreed to "reduce and remove" tariffs on imported American-made cars, an assertion that official in Beijing have refused to confirm.

Trump's tweet, which moved stocks of automobile companies across the globe, followed the dinner at the Group of 20 summit in Argentina.

However, there are differences in both countries' official accounts of what was agreed.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are those of the author and may not reflect those of Kitco Metals Inc. It is not a solicitation to make any exchange in commodities, securities or other financial instruments.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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