An agreement between the United States and China to restore the existing tariffs in the context of a "phase one" trade agreement faces fierce opposition from the White House and external consultants, say multiple sources familiar with the talks.
The idea of a tariff rollback was not part of the original October handshake agreement between Chinese Vice Premier Liu He and US President Donald Trump, the sources said.
Last Thursday Chinese officials claimed that tariff reductions had been agreed and a US official confirmed that it was the case early Thursday afternoon.
But there is a division within the administration on the fact that the rollback of tariffs will reduce US leverage in the negotiations, the officials of the current administration and of the previous ones have said.
President Donald Trump
Yuri Gripas | Reuters
The Chinese Communist Party is trying to "re-exchange" the agreement, said Stephen Bannon, a former White House adviser. He added that the rollback of the previous tariffs "goes against the grain" of the original October agreement.
"There is nothing that Trump hates most" of someone backtracking on a deal, he said.
No one in the White House would be registered to confirm the division and the office of the US sales representative did not comment on whether or not there will be tariff reductions.
It is "very similar" in Beijing, said Christian Whiton, a former trump administration adviser on East Asia. The Chinese Communist Party is using a "hyper-aggressive negotiation strategy to try to redefine reality," he said.
"At the end of the day, Trump is the original hawk" on Chinese trade, Whiton said. "I would be very surprised" if he accepted this.