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Trump, Xi trade war deal: White House correction on Kudlow tariff delay



larry kudlow trump
of National Economic Council Larry Kudlow

Getty Images/Pool

  • President Donald Trump’s trade agreement with Chinese
    President Xi Jinping was vague, and it led to confusion on
  • White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow told reporters that
    a 90-day delay in the escalation would start on January 1, a
    month later than was initially assumed.
  • The White House scrambled to issue a correction, clarifying
    the 90-day delay actually started December 1.
  • The correction highlights the slapdash nature of the deal and
    the distance remaining between the two countries to resolve the
    trade war.

The rushed, vague nature of President Donald Trump’s
trade agreement with Chinese President Xi Jinping
was on full
display Monday, as the White House had to walk back a timing
announcement by Trump’s top economic adviser.

As part of the deal reached by Trump and Xi during the G20 summit
in Buenos Aires, Argentina on Saturday, the US pledged to delay
the increase of the tariff rate from from 10% to 25% on $200
billion worth of Chinese goods. The rate was set to increase on
January 1, a move that would have significantly escalated the
trade war
between the two countries. Instead that increase
will be delayed by 90 days.

The countdown clock to the tariff increase was originally assumed
to start on December 1, meaning new tariffs could be imposed
starting on March 1. But Larry Kudlow, Trump’s National Economic
Council director and top economic adviser, threw that into
question during a call with reporters on Monday.

“Well, on the tariff raise, the President has said 90 days
beginning January 1st, which is when it was going to go — the 10
to 25 was going to go into effect,” Kudlow said.

This caught many people by surprise, evidently including the
White House. News website
Axios reported
that officials inside the White House were
taken aback by Kudlow’s comment, leading to a correction by the
White House just a few hours later. In an updated transcript of
the call, the administration clarified that the 90-day delay
would in fact start December 1.

The switch on timing was just another in a string of slapdash
efforts by the Trump administration to fill in the blanks on
Trump and Xi’s broad agreement.

Read more:

The US-China trade war might still rage on despite a breakthrough
deal between Trump and Xi»

The US and China kicked off the confusion when the two sides
released very different statements about the meeting. Numerous
items referenced in the US press release were omitted from the
Chinese version and vice versa.

Additionally, the statements came with few details making it hard
to determine each country’s exact commitments. As an example, the
Trump administration touted China’s promise to buy American
agricultural, energy, and industrial goods. However, China did
not refer to the purchases, and the Trump administration offered
no details on the size of the purchases nor the timing of the

Adding to the confusion was
Trump’s sudden tweet on Sunday
that claimed China
agreed to reduce and remove tariffs on cars coming into
China from the US.” Currently the rate on American-made cars
coming into China is 40%.

But it was unclear exactly what the timing on the auto tariff
reduction will be and the level to which the tariffs will drop.

Kudlow claimed that China will lower the rate to zero, below the
15% tariff rate for all other imported cars coming into the
country. Lowering the rate for US cars would require China do the
same for all other countries as well.

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