President Donald Trump on Wednesday played down expectations for a China trade deal to be hatched soon, instead signaling a possible new direction for trade talks between the world's two largest economies.
"Our Trade Deal with China is moving along nicely, but in the end we will probably have to use a different structure in that this will be too hard to get done and to verify results after completion," Trump said in an early morning tweet.
The statement comes as the White House negotiates the framework of a deal to avoid tariffs between the countries. The administration has threatened to impose steep tariffs on Chinese imports unless China cuts its trade deficit with the U.S. by $200 billion in two years, aiming to spur China's buying of billions more in U.S. goods.
On Saturday, the U.S. and China issued a joint statement on trade consultations saying "both sides agreed on meaningful increases in United States agriculture and energy exports. The United States will send a team to China to work out the details."
The tentative deal would involve increased U.S. exports of goods such as agricultural and energy commodities and China lowering of trade barriers.
In tweets Monday morning, the president said China "has agreed to buy massive amounts of ADDITIONAL Farm/Agricultural Products," and wrote separately that barriers and tariffs would "come down" for the "first time."
Trump's key advisors are still working on the details. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross recently announced plans to visit Bejing in early June to work out the details of the commitment by China.
Larry Kudlow, Trump's top economic advisor, told CNBC on Monday that the United States would not rule out tariffs on China as a "negotiating" or "enforcement" tool, despite "progress" made last week during talks with Beijing.
But on Tuesday, Trump said he was "not satisfied" with the trade talks taking place. His comments hit the stock market and continued to weigh on stocks Wednesday.
Another deal is apparently on thin ice as well. Trump said Tuesday that the highly anticipated summit with North Korea may not happen after all.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo gave more details Wednesday, saying the U.S. is prepared to walk away from negotiations with North Korea if upcoming talks on its nuclear weapons program head in the wrong direction, and that "a bad deal is not an option."
"The American people are counting on us to get this right. If the right deal is not on the table, we will respectfully walk away," Pompeo said in his opening remarks for a House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing.