Two Months Later: Trump Has Still Failed To Reach A China Trade Deal He Said Was Already Done

Two months ago, Trump claimed he had reached a “phase one” trade deal with China, and even told farmers to go out and buy more land and equipment, touting an increase in China’s commitment to U.S. agricultural purchases as part of the deal. Two months later, Trump has failed to actually reach a phase one deal that, at this point, would simply undo some of the damage his erratic trade policy has done.

Two months ago, in the Oval Office, Trump lied that he had reached a “phase one” trade deal with China.

Trump, October 11, 2019: “And, as you know, we have the Vice Premier of China, one of the most respected men in all of China, and the world, for that matter. And we have great respect for him, a great friendship with him. And we’ve come to a very substantial phase one deal.”

Trump: “We’ve agreed in principle to just about everything I mentioned, all of the different points.  And now we’re getting it papered, and I don’t think it should be a problem getting it papered.”

At a rally later that night, Trump touted his false deal and advised farmers to go buy more land and bigger tractors. 

Trump, October 11, 2019: “Phase one is a big phase. In fact, the biggest problem: it will be $40 billion to $50 billion in farm purchases. I don’t think our farmers can produce that much. I said that’s okay. You know my people said, ‘sir, can we make it 20?’ I said, ‘no, make it 50.’ Our farmers will buy more land, and they’ll buy bigger tractors.”

Two months later, Trump has still failed to secure commitments for increased ag purchases and complete a deal with China, and the White House won’t stand behind his advice to farmers.

Bloomberg: “Eight weeks ago, Trump announced that a phase-one agreement had been reached between Washington and Beijing, subject to getting it down on paper in a process that might take three to five weeks.”

Kudlow: “The U.S. and China are trying to agree on the amount of American agriculture products that Beijing is willing to purchase, said White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow, who declined to repeat President Donald Trump’s advice to farmers two months ago to buy more tractors and land.”

Now, Trump is prepared to remove existing tariffs on China without getting any concrete commitments for trade reform in return – meaning all the damage he’s done was only to get us part way back to the status quo.

Wall Street Journal: “The preliminary phase one agreement ‘does not address many of the fundamental issues that have led to heightened tensions’ between the U.S. and China, said Libby Cantrill, head of public policy at bond manager Pacific Investment Management Co.”

Wall Street Journal’s Gerald Seib: “That seems to be, at best, a return to a status quo. And it’s after tariffs have been imposed that have cost consumers, after taxpayers have had to pay additional funds to farmers who were hit by the retaliatory tariffs in China. So it’s really not even a return to the status quo. It’s a half step back to the status quo. And at some cost to the United States. Not a great report card for three months of negotiating.”

Washington Post: “But whatever its achievements, Trump’s trade strategy has come at some cost. The administration has earmarked $28 billion to compensate farmers who have lost sales because of China’s retaliatory tariffs. Hundreds of companies have had production plans disrupted while they seek government waivers from the tariffs.”