Economy & Trade

Kudlow: China agreed to reduce auto tariffs, but no 'specific agreement'

Top White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow on Monday said he believes China agreed to lower tariffs on imported automobiles during trade talks with President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump: China agrees to reduce tariffs on US autos Schiff: Roger Stone could face charges of lying to Congress Supreme Court delays arguments for Bush national day of mourning MORE, but did not provide specifics about the supposed agreement.

"I believe that commitment was made," Kudlow told reporters. "That is my understanding. That is President Trump's understanding. And hopefully we'll see some quote, unquote immediate action there."

Kudlow, however, would not say when China would end its 40 percent auto tariff and to what level it would be reduced.

"We don't yet have specific agreement on that," he said. "I will just tell you as an involved participant we expect those tariffs to go to zero."

The comments added to the confusion about what exactly China agreed to on auto tariffs, which Trump cited as a key concession made by Chinese President Xi Jinping during their trade negotiations at last weekend's Group of 20 summit.

Trump tweeted Sunday after the meeting that "China has agreed to reduce and remove tariffs on cars coming into China from the U.S."

But Chinese officials did not mention auto tariffs as a component of the truce the two leaders reached. White House trade adviser Peter Navarro, who attended the meeting along with Kudlow and Trump, earlier Monday did not confirm an auto-tariff reduction.

Kudlow also said the 90-day reprieve from U.S. tariff increases on China will begin on January 1, when the tariff rate on $250 billion worth of Chinese goods was set to jump from 10 percent to 25 percent, and not immediately.

That gives China roughly an additional month to address Trump's long-standing concerns about Beijing's trade practices.

Trump is touting the ceasefire as a major victory in his heated trade dispute with Xi. Stock markets surged early Monday on the news that the world's two largest economies agreed to not escalate their conflict.

But the agreement left many fundamental issues unresolved, including forced technology transfers and other trade barriers.

Kudlow hailed the deal as "an enormous, enormous event" because Xi personally agreed to address those issues in the coming months. But he acknowledged Beijing has made similar commitments before, only not to deliver.

"If I'm going to be wrong, maybe I'll be wrong soon. Or we could be pleasantly surprised," he said.

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