The dust is taking a long time to settle from the U.S.-China trade breakthrough Saturday at the G-20: We still don’t know key details about what the two sides resolved, what they didn’t and on what terms.
Trump administration officials compounded the confusion Monday by sending conflicting messages about some basic points. For example, it took the White House all day to correct top economic adviser Larry Kudlow’s statement that the 90-day clock for the next round of talks would begin Jan. 1. In fact, the administration clarified, it started on Dec. 1. And the administration struggled to explain President Trump’s claim the Chinese have agreed to eliminate tariffs on U.S. auto imports.
But even as investors cheered the broad strokes of an agreement — the Dow Jones industrial average climbed 288 points Monday in a relief rally — American trade hawks pointed to one concrete development that suggested the Trump team will demand a high price from Beijing for a lasting peace. Trump is deputizing U.S. Trade Representative Robert E. Lighthizer to lead talks with the Chinese. That means Beijing will be squaring off against a steely negotiator who has led the administration’s fact-finding into Chinese trading abuses and other forms of economic espionage.
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