Pres­i­dent Trump’s tweets aim to calm mar­ket fears over China tar­iffs.

Houston Chronicle - - BUSINESS - By Alan Rappe­port

Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump tried to calm global mar­kets and ease con­cerns that his trade truce with China was al­ready floun­der­ing Wed­nes­day, declar­ing in a se­ries of tweets that the Chi­nese gov­ern­ment has sent “very strong sig­nals” since Trump reached an ac­cord with Chi­nese Pres­i­dent Xi Jin­ping in Ar­gentina last week.

Con­fu­sion about what Trump and Xi ac­tu­ally agreed to at their meet­ing, com­bined with Trump’s dec­la­ra­tion Tues­day that he was a “Tar­iff Man,” roiled global mar­kets Tues­day, end­ing a brief rally that be­gan Mon­day after the two gov­ern­ments an­nounced a 90day truce.

While U.S. mar­kets were closed Wed­nes­day to honor the death of for­mer Pres­i­dent Ge­orge H.W. Bush, Trump used the op­por­tu­nity put a more pos­i­tive spin on his ne­go­ti­a­tions with the Chi­nese.

“Not to sound naive or any­thing, but I be­lieve Pres­i­dent Xi meant ev­ery word of what he said at our long and hope­fully his­toric meet­ing,” Trump wrote in a post on Twit­ter.

In a sep­a­rate tweet, Trump pointed to a Bloomberg News re­port that said Chi­nese of­fi­cials were pre­par­ing to restart im­ports of U.S. soy­beans and liq­ue­fied nat­u­ral gas. That re­port could not be im­me­di­ately con­firmed by the New York Times.

Trump and his ad­vis­ers have been tout­ing the agree­ment reached in Buenos Aires as a vic­tory, say­ing that China had agreed to pur­chase $1.2 tril­lion worth of U.S. prod­ucts and ad­dress its long-stand­ing prac­tice of re­quir­ing com­pa­nies do­ing busi­ness there to hand over tech­nol­ogy and trade se­crets.

The pres­i­dent has said re­peat­edly that China will “im­me­di­ately” be­gin pur­chas­ing more U.S. agri­cul­tural prod­ucts and that it is pre­pared to drop its 40 per­cent tar­iffs on U.S. cars.

While China ex­pressed con­fi­dence in the trade talks Wed­nes­day, the gov­ern­ment has yet to pro­vide any spe­cific de­tails about what was agreed to dur­ing the meet­ing or con­firm the items that Trump has cited. In a brief state­ment on its web­site, the Chi­nese Com­merce Min­istry said both sides would con­tinue to put their trade com­mit­ments into ef­fect.

As crit­i­cism mounted Tues­day that Trump had agreed to a hol­low deal, the pres­i­dent is­sued a se­ries of tweets say­ing he was pre­pared to move for­ward with ad­di­tional and higher tar­iffs on China if it did not make good on its com­mit­ments. The tweets helped drive the stock mar­ket lower, with com­pa­nies like Boe­ing and Cater­pil­lar — which are heav­ily ex­posed to China — fall­ing.

“Both the sen­ti­ment of the tweets — the pres­i­dent called him­self ‘Tar­iff Man’ — and the pro­found lack of un­der­stand­ing of eco­nom­ics they demon­strated were deeply alarm­ing,” Ian Shep­herd­son, chief econ­o­mist at Pan­theon Macroe­co­nomics, wrote in a note to clients.

Even the ad­min­is­tra­tion’s most vo­cal China skep­tic, Peter Navarro, has tried to por­tray op­ti­mism that this time the Chi­nese gov­ern­ment is ready to make a deal.

“I think what the mar­kets have to do is give this process the req­ui­site time,” Navarro, Trump’s top trade ad­viser, told the Fox Busi­ness Net­work on Tues­day af­ter­noon. “It’s silly for the mar­kets to re­act to some kind of ru­mors in the air.”

Tom Bren­ner / New York Times

Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump met Satur­day with Pres­i­dent Xi Jin­ping of China dur­ing the Group of 20 sum­mit in Buenos Aires, Ar­gentina. The de­tails of what trade agree­ments they reached have not been made pub­lic yet.

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