Trade truce at least means 'we're going to do no more harm' for 90 days, former US trade rep says

  • "We see it reflected in the markets, not only in the U.S. but worldwide, that it gave everyone a chance to exhale," Ron Kirk, former U.S. trade representative, said.
  • Global markets reacted positively Monday to news of a temporary trade truce between the U.S. and China that was reached at the weekend.
  • The truce follows months of investor concern over the U.S. and China's retaliatory import tariffs placed on each other's goods.

The trade truce between the U.S. and China has given everyone a chance to take a breath, but it's only a 90-day reprieve, a former trade representative told CNBC on Tuesday.

"We see it reflected in the markets, not only in the U.S. but worldwide, that it gave everyone a chance to exhale," Ron Kirk, former U.S. trade representative, said.

"At a minimum, we're going to do no more harm and I do applaud the leaders of both countries for taking this opportunity to at least deescalate the current tensions. Now, of course, the long-standing question is what comes next." he told CNBC's Joumanna Bercetche at the Milken Institute summit in London.

"(But) ultimately, this truce will be nothing but a 90-day reprieve if we can't come together and have a common understanding on the path forward."

Chinese President Xi Jinping and U.S. President Donald Trump during a meeting outside the Great Hall of the People in Beijing.
Artyom Ivanov | TASS | Getty Images
Chinese President Xi Jinping and U.S. President Donald Trump during a meeting outside the Great Hall of the People in Beijing.

Global markets reacted positively Monday to news of a temporary trade truce between the U.S. and China that was reached at the weekend. The truce follows months of investor concern over the U.S. and China's retaliatory import tariffs placed on each other's goods.

At last weekend's G-20 summit in Buenos Aires, Argentina, President Donald Trump and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping agreed at a working dinner that they would both hold-off on imposing additional reciprocal charges on goods for 90 days.

The agreement has been criticized for being scant on hard detail and is seen as fragile, with confusion arising already over when the truce starts. Trump economic adviser Larry Kudlow told reporters Monday that the 90-day timetable would commence January 1, but the White House later issued a correction saying the timetable starts December 1.

"What we have essentially is a verbal agreement that the two countries will continue to work on in the next 90 days to see if we can't have more structure to this, but it is good news that at least we've backed away from the brink, even temporarily," Kirk said.