“President Trump’s tariffs are the centerpiece of his confrontation with the Chinese Communist Party — and they have worked brilliantly, forcing the Chinese to the table,” said Stephen K. Bannon, the president’s former chief strategist. “Now, China is trying to re-trade the president and remove the tariffs.”
Just hours after American officials confirmed that they would cut existing tariffs in the event of a deal, some of Mr. Trump’s other advisers pushed back.
“There is no agreement at this time to remove any of the existing tariffs as a condition of the phase one deal,” Peter Navarro, a White House trade adviser, said during an interview on Fox Business Network. “The only person who can make that decision is President Donald J. Trump and it’s as simple as that.”
One U.S. official concurred that the two sides are planning to roll back tariffs as part of an initial trade pact—which would indicate that reports earlier this week that such a rollback was under consideration had progressed.
But two other people familiar with the administration’s thinking disputed that a formal rollback plan had been agreed on.
“There are no plans to roll back any tariffs in exchange for phase one,” said one of the people. Chinese officials are “trying to renegotiate the deal to their advantage.”
Michael Pillsbury, a Hudson Institute expert who advises the Trump administration, said he believed the statement from China’s Commerce Ministry “may represent wishful thinking on the Chinese side more than a specific agreement.”
Former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon said China has mounted a “sophisticated influence operation” to make tariff rollbacks part of any deal.