President Donald Trump moved quickly to try and calm stock market worries after top China trade adviser Peter Navarro cast doubt over the future of his hard-fought trade deal with Beijing.
Navarro – in an interview on Monday with Fox News – said that China’s complacency in reporting the spread of the coronavirus early on led to the breakdown of political and economic channels with the US. At one point the interviewer described Trump’s efforts to make progress on the trade deal and asked Navarro, “Is that over?”
Navarro then answered, “It’s over,” before describing how China suppression of information about the coronavirus had become more widely known.
Dow futures plunged nearly 400 points after the reports, which Navarro then quickly dismissed as false, saying that his words were taken “wildly out of context.”
The comments “had nothing at all to do with the Phase I trade deal, which continues in place,” Navarro told CNN in a statement. “I was simply speaking to the lack of trust we now have of the Chinese Communist Party after they lied about the origins of the China virus and foisted a pandemic upon the world.”
Trump tweeted later on Monday evening that the deal is still in place.
“The China Trade Deal is fully intact. Hopefully they will continue to live up to the terms of the Agreement!” Trump said.
White House officials have previously said that the administration is extremely disappointed with China’s failure to inform the World Health Organization or its allies early on about the emergence of the deadly virus, which has now infected more than 9 million people worldwide. However, the trade deal is a central part of the President’s reelection pitch to voters as he counts on the economy rebounding from shutdowns meant to limit the spread of the virus.