Trump has changed his tune on a trade deal with China so many times it's hard to count.
In December, Trump gave China 90 days to conclude a deal Otherwise. Trump said he would boost tariffs on $200 billion of Chinese goods to 25% from the current 10%.Those 90 days ended March 1.
On December 31, I noted Trump Hails "Big Progress" on Trade Deal With China. I commented "Supposedly there is 'big progress' on a comprehensive trade deal with China. Color me skeptical."
On January 19, I noted China Pledges US Buying Spree to Reduce Trade Surplus With US to Zero By 2024. I commented "In discussions that are not yet public, and will likely be empty promises, sources say China Offers a Path to Eliminate U.S. Trade Imbalance."
On February 22, the Washington Post reported Trump says he expects to meet with China’s Xi and finalize new trade deal but Trump would not rule out extending the deadline beyond March 1.
On February 24, Trump Tweeted there was "substantial progress on intellectual property" and suspended tariffs.
On February 25, I noted Hooray! "Substantial" Progress With China (Just Don't Ask Where) in response to Trump's Tweets.
At the end of February, Trump expected a small delay in signing.
On March 2, I noted Trump Assails WTO "Straitjacket", Attempts Pocket Veto of Entire Organization.
On March 12, the Washington Post stated U.S. Trade Representative Robert E. Lighthizer told the Senate Finance Committee “Our hope is that we are in the final weeks” of negotiations. However, Schumer said on the Senate floor, “It is abundantly clear that China is playing us.”
On March 13, Trump stated that he is in No Rush to Complete China Trade Deal. “I think things are going along very well - we’ll just see what the date is,” Trump told reporters at the White House.
Drum Roll Please.......
Today, Bloomberg reports China and U.S. to Push Back Trump-Xi Meeting to at Least April
The key words here are "at least" April. Lighthizer warned ‘major issues’ remained outstanding in talks.
90 Days Till Who Knows When
We have gone from the certainty of "90 days or else" to canceled tariffs and who knows when.
As I said at the outset, there will be a deal, just don't expect much substance to it or for China to honor it if there is.
Meanwhile, I am sure a pause in Tariffs and a delay in the deal suits China just fine.
For the record, I think the pause in tariffs is a good thing because tariffs are a bad idea in the first place. US farmers were getting killed by China's retaliations.
Any deal that eliminates tariffs and retaliations will be a good thing, even if it otherwise accomplishes nothing.