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Sen. Rubio has doubts about US-China trade accord: 'I don't think we have a deal with them'

Key Points
  • "I don't think we have a deal with them in the first tranche," Rubio tells CNBC. "They're going to try to get away with what they can get away with."
  • Rubio was referring to U.S.-China talks earlier this month, after which President Trump announced that they'd reached a "very substantial phase-one deal."
  • But Rubio remains skeptical over whether China will be good to its word, even if it ultimately signs a "phase one" agreement with Trump.
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Sen. Marco Rubio: China will try to get away with what they can get away with

Republican Sen. Marco Rubio on Wednesday said that he doubts that the White House has actually nailed down a deal with China.

"If you look at the statements that have come out, it's been very difficult to get the Chinese to admit that they agreed to what has been reported they agreed to," Rubio said on CNBC's "Squawk Box."

"I don't think we have a deal with them in the first tranche," he added. "They're going to try to get away with what they can get away with."

The Florida senator was referring to talks between China and the U.S. earlier this month, after which President Donald Trump announced that both sides reached a "very substantial phase one deal." As part of that deal, China is theoretically to address intellectual property concerns raised by the U.S. and buy $40 billion to $50 billion worth of U.S. agricultural products.

In exchange, the U.S. agreed to hold off on a tariff hike.

But while Trump touted the negotiations as a success, Chinese state media was more subdued and simply noted that "substantial progress" had been made. Chinese media also did not call phase one a "deal" and made little mention of the agricultural product purchases.

Most recently, CNBC reported that China wants yet another round of talks before officially agreeing to the "phase one" plan lauded by Trump. The president said Friday that he thinks "it will get signed quite easily," hopefully by or during the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation meetings set to take place in Chile on Nov. 16 and 17.

But Rubio remains skeptical over whether China will be good to its word, even if it ultimately signs a "phase one" agreement with Trump.

"I do believe that they will agree to things they don't intend to comply with," he said. "They made all kinds of agreements about the kind of relationship with Hong Kong they would have and they're clearly violating that."