At last weekend's dinner meeting in Argentina, the presidents agreed to suspend a planned hike in tariffs on $200 billion in Chinese goods to the US from 10% to 25%. As part of his Twitter storm today, the U.S. president called himself "Tariff Man" and then proceeded to demonstrate his lack of basic understanding about how tariffs work, seemingly ignorant of the fact that tariffs are in effect a tax paid by domestic consumers, not foreign countries.
Additionally, China was said to be beginning to buy products from USA farmers "immediately".
The impact is actually less than that being felt in some other sectors of the US economy, such as agriculture, but it is still a hit to the auto industry which shipped about 250,000 vehicles to China previous year.
While at the conclusion of Saturday's working dinner, both the USA and Chinese delegations said that what amounted to a trade war "truce" between the leaders had been reached, the messaging from the White House that followed seemed to only muddy the waters.
White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow said on Tuesday that a reduction in Chinese tariffs on US cars and agricultural and energy commodities would be a "litmus test" for whether U.S.
Trump has so far preferred a bilateral approach in dealing with China, but Beijing has also been keen to ensure that American partners like the European Union, Canada, Australia and Japan do not team up with the U.S. to pressure China on what they see as unfair trade practices and barriers to market access.
China pledged to buy more from the United States and the White House said the two sides would negotiate "structural changes" to thorny issues plaguing relations, but few details and no dollar amounts were disclosed.
Trump has long accused China of unfair trade practices that hurt Americans and the U.S. economy.
Officials from the United States and a number of other major economies have often criticized China for its slow approach to negotiations and not following through on commitments. Trump's National Economic Council advisor Larry Kudlow tried to strike an update note while acknowledging to Fox News a deal "hasn't been signed and sealed and delivered yet".
"Ultimately, I believe, we will be making a deal - either now or into the future", he wrote. "ALL subjects discussed!" Trump tweeted on 5 December.
U.S. Representative Steve King, an Iowa Republican, in February 2017 introduced a bill that would have allowed the U.S. government to punish Chinese intellectual property theft by imposing duties on the country's imports. But Mnuchin added, "If that's real" - thereby raising some doubt - it would close the United States trade deficit with China, and added: "We have to have a negotiated agreement and have this on paper".
A Chinese official told Reuters officials were "waiting for the leaders to return" before publicizing details.
The White House's press release said that the People's Republic "will agree to purchase a not yet agreed upon but very substantial, amount of agricultural, energy, industrial, and other products".
Also, China's commerce ministry made no mention of the auto tariff cuts which Mr Trump said earlier this week China had agreed to. The company said it wants to ramp up production in North America and is considering - although hasn't yet decided - whether to set up a second plant in the U.S.to make power trains.
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