White House senior trade adviser Peter Navarro has seemingly rebuked Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin’s comments made last week that the US and China had put their trade war on hold, Bloomberg reports, calling it an “unfortunate sound bite.”
“What we’re having with China is a trade dispute, plain and simple,” said Navarro in an interview on Wednesday. He added that because of trade deals like Nafta and rulings made by the WTO involving China, the US had “lost the trade war long ago.”
White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders also gave an alternative interpretative of Mnuchin’s remarks. The Treasury Secretary “didn’t say it was on hold indefinitely,” according to Sanders. “The president ultimately makes the decisions on trade, and when he does we announce them. And that’s exactly what’s taking in this process.”
Navarro’s comments reinforce the growing sense of divide between members of the White House team on how to tackle China. Whilst Mnuchin had managed to secure promises from China to greatly reduce the bilateral trade deficit, more hawkish officials like Navarro or US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer think stricter, more punitive measures must be taken.