Donald Trump has dismissed media speculation that he would cancel import tariffs on China, further stoking uncertainty over a prospective trade deal.
“The Wall Street Journal story on the China Deal is completely wrong, especially their statement on Tariffs,” Trump said in a typically strident tweet on Friday. “Fake News. They should find a better leaker!”
The Trump administration last year began imposing import tariffs on China, alongside other major trade partners, in a bid to solve the chronic trade deficit, promote domestic manufacturers and retaliate for alleged unfair trade practices and intellectual property theft. The two superpowers have since exchanged several rounds of multi-billion tariffs.
The US president has repeatedly announced progress in trade talks, which have dragged on for months without apparent advances and stumbled over both political and economic issues. The US has threatened to put 15 percent tariffs on $156 billion of Chinese consumer goods on 15 December, right before the Christmas sales. The move is still under consideration and depends largely on the outcome of the negotiations.
The Wall Street Journal claimed on Thursday that Trump had agreed to a “limited” trade deal with China, under which he would cut existing tariff rates on roughly $360 billion of Chinese-made goods by half and cancel the 15 December levies. Beijing in return allegedly agreed to buy $50 billion worth of American agricultural products next year, along with energy and other goods.
Several US media, including CNN and Bloomberg, separately reported on Thursday that Trump had signed off on the “phase one” agreement that is understood to contain the same terms cited by the WSJ.
Neither the White House nor Beijing have confirmed the speculation yet, although Trump said on Thursday that he was “getting very close to a big deal with China.”