US President Donald Trump could postpone tariffs on Chinese goods scheduled to take effect in December, White House trade adviser Peter Navarro said Friday.
However, he shot down reports that existing tariffs would be rolled back as part of a deal to end the lingering US-China trade conflict that has slowed the global economy.
Investors worldwide have been cheered by repeated reports quoting sources in Washington and Beijing saying duties already imposed could be removed in a proportional way.
But the hardline trade adviser seemed to cast doubt on the signs of progress in fraught negotiations.
“What is on the table is tariffs coming in December, December 15,” Peter Navarro told NPR radio. “We would be willing I think -- it’s up to the president -- to postpone those tariffs.”
“But not roll back any existing tariffs. That’s the fine distinction here.”
And Navarro told Fox Business late Thursday that “there is no agreement at this time to remove any of the existing tariffs as a condition of the phase one deal.”
The US and China have imposed steep tariffs on hundreds of billions of dollars in two-way trade, and another round of US duties are set to hit on December 15 on another $160 billion in Chinese goods.
Other Trump administration officials have been more upbeat about the prospects but without revealing any details.
White House economic aide Larry Kudlow confirmed the advance in negotiations. If the sides reach a phase one trade deal, “there are going to be tariff agreements and concessions,” he told Bloomberg on Thursday.
White House spokeswoman Stephanie Grisham told the Fox News Channel, “We are very, very optimistic that we will reach a deal soon.”