White House Trade Advisor Peter Navarro speaks to the press outside of the White House in Washington, DC, on June 18, 2020.
Saul Loeb | AFP | Getty Images
White House trade advisor Peter Navarro has clarified that the U.S.-China phase one trade deal is not over, and that his comments to Fox News was taken out of context — a statement confirmed by President Donald Trump on Twitter.
“My comments have been taken wildly out of context,” Navarro said in a statement from the White House after Fox News reported him saying on Monday that Trump had decided to terminate the trade agreement. U.S. futures fell after the Fox News report, but recovered after Navarro’s clarification.
“They had nothing at all to do with the Phase I trade deal, which continues in place. I was simply speaking to the lack of trust we now have of the Chinese Communist Party after they lied about the origins of the China virus and foisted a pandemic upon the world,” he added.
In a Twitter post late Monday, Trump said “The China Trade Deal is fully intact. Hopefully they will continue to live up to the terms of the Agreement!”
Fox News earlier reported that Navarro — who’s widely known as a China hawk — had blamed the breakdown of the trade deal on China not warning about the coronavirus outbreak earlier.
The coronavirus disease first emerged in the Chinese city of Wuhan late last year, before both countries signed the trade deal in January.
“It’s over,” Navarro said in an interview with Fox News’ “The Story.” The news channel had asked whether the trade deal was over even though Trump “really wanted to hang onto” it “as much as possible.”
Navarro added that the “turning point” came when the U.S. only learned about the spread of the coronavirus after the Chinese delegation had left Washington. The delegation, which included Chinese Vice Premier Liu He, was in Washington to sign the phase one agreement.
Relations between Washington and Beijing have been at their worst in years. The Trump administration has repeatedly hit out at Beijing for its handling of the coronavirus outbreak and for not being transparent about the extend of the virus spread.
Escalating tensions between the two countries in recent months brought into question the fate of the phase one trade deal, which put a pause in their damaging trade war that became one of the biggest threats to the global economy.
Trump last month said he was “torn” over whether to end the trade deal with China. The president hasn’t given an update on his stance on the agreement.