There was a moment Monday evening when the phase one U.S.-China trade deal seemed over and done, at least according to White House trade adviser Peter Navarro speaking on TV. But then President Donald Trump issued a late-night tweet to the contrary.
Marketplace’s Nova Safo is following the series of events. The following is an edited transcript of his conversation with “Marketplace Morning Report” host David Brancaccio.
David Brancaccio: What did Mr. Navarro say?
Nova Safo: He was on Fox News last night, and during his interview with host Martha MacCallum, Navarro listed a number of provocative actions on the part of China — things like the proposed security crackdown on Hong Kong, alleged election interference here in the U.S.
And then MacCallum asked this question (she’s at first talking about President Trump):
“He obviously really wanted to hang onto this trade deal as much as possible. He wanted them to make good on their promises, because there had been progress made on that trade deal. But given everything that’s happened, and all the things you just listed, is that over?”
Navarro replied, “It’s over. Yes.” Those words sent markets tumbling, because it sounded like Navarro said the China trade deal is over. Dow futures went down about 400 points. Asian markets also slid.
Brancaccio: That seemed to reverse when the president hit tweet. So was the White House point man on trade misinformed?
Safo: Navarro said his comment was taken out of context, that he was referring to lack of trust between China and the U.S., especially in light of the coronavirus pandemic. But there’s no question the White House was in damage control after that Fox News appearance.
As you mentioned, President Trump tweeted saying the China trade deal is “fully intact.” Before that, the president’s top economic adviser, Larry Kudlow, came out saying the trade deal is still there. And the markets did rebound on that news.