President Donald Trump on Wednesday tried to shore up confidence that he had successfully struck a deal with China to pause the trade war, after markets swooned a day before and as Beijing broke its silence about the negotiations.
“Very strong signals being sent by China once they returned home from their long trip, including stops, from Argentina. Not to sound naive or anything, but I believe President Xi meant every word of what he said at our long and hopefully historic meeting. ALL subjects discussed!” Trump tweeted, appearing to blame a long commute back from the G-20 summit for any confusion.
Markets on Tuesday dropped precipitously after mixed signals emerged as to what exactly Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping had agreed to during the weekend’s summit of world leaders in Argentina.
While both sides appeared to sign off on a 90-day pause, the Trump administration put a China hawk in charge of further negotiations while also claiming that China had agreed to significant concessions.
Earlier Wednesday, the Chinese government finally broke its silence on the trade deal, revealing for the first time its take on the issue that has caused confusion on the other side of the Pacific.
A spokesperson for the Chinese Ministry of Commerce said in a brief and vague statement that Beijing is “confident” its trade and economic teams will be able to work with the Trump administration to strike a permanent deal on trade issues within “90 days in accordance with a clear timetable and road map.”
The White House has been grappling with a shaky rollout of the deal, in which new tariffs on $250 billion worth of Chinese goods will be put on hold for 90 days as negotiators address a laundry list of trade concerns between the two countries, including intellectual property theft and forced technology transfers.
There were differing takes from the White House on many aspects of the deal from who would be leading the negotiations to when the 90-day ceasefire technically began.
And Trump has thrown curveballs into the process by tweeting over the weekend that China had agreed to roll back and remove steep tariffs on U.S. auto imports. White House aides have sought to downplay that claim, with economic adviser Larry Kudlow allowing in different interviews this week that though no “specific agreement” was made on that issue, “it’s coming.”
And while Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin maintained early in the week that President Xi had made specific agreements with Trump, many remained skeptical that the countries could address all of their disagreements within the 90-day time period.
The uncertainty could have been a driving force behind major stock market fluctuations based on the absence of Chinese input on what both sides agreed to, with U.S. stocks plunging on Tuesday and global stocks doing the same Wednesday morning after initially surging in the wake of news of the deal. The New York Stock Exchange will be closed on Wednesday in observance of the national day of mourning.
In a later tweet on Wednesday morning, Trump said one of the most “exciting” things agreed to over the weekend was Xi’s promise to crack down on the synthetic opioid fentanyl. The White House has said that Xi agreed to classify the drug as a controlled substance, allowing for harsher penalties for distributors, which Trump called a “game changer.”
Trump indicated that Xi could impose the death penalty on dealers, writing that “If China cracks down on this ‘horror drug,’ using the Death Penalty for distributors and pushers, the results will be incredible!”