Global investors, who had feared for months that a protracted trade war could hurt economic growth, seemed to cheer the cease-fire on Monday, but United States markets slid back on Tuesday as it became clear that there were few concrete commitments that came out of the discussions so far. We are right now taking in $billions in Tariffs.
But the deal was also vague, and the uncertainty has led to skepticism that the divides between the USA and Chinese goals can be bridged.
That approach so far has amounted to slapping tariffs on US$250 billion (NZ$361 billion) of Chinese imports and vowing to impose penalties on all other imports if China doesn't make changes.
President Donald Trump and his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping, held an effective meeting on the side-lines of the summit, held over the weekend in Argentina. "But if not remember, I am a Tariff man", he tweeted.
"When people or countries come in to raid the great wealth of our Nation, I want them to pay for the privilege of doing so", he said.
Trump's economic team has spun his knee-jerk protectionism as a tactic created to negotiate "better" trade deals - but so far, those better trade deals don't seem to be stronger than the status quo ante.
Markets took a dive following Trump's tweetstorm.
The Dow dropped 799 points, or 3.1%, on Tuesday.
At 1:16 pm ET the Dow Jones was down 565.16 points at 25,261.27, the S&P 500 was down 62.55 points at 2,727.82 and the Nasdaq was down 196.65 points at 7,244.86. The JSE was closed before the latest jitters, with the all-share index ending the day 0.3% higher.
Kudlow was adamant, however, that China would have to move quickly with concessions that they had promised, including what he understood to be a pledge to lower tariffs on cars. The US automaker said it was "encouraged by the trade discussions" as it awaited more detail.
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Trump raised the stakes on those pledges, saying in a tweet that he expects China to start buying more agricultural products "immediately". He noted that the talks would be finalized within 90 days after his meeting with President Xi Jinping at the G20 forum.
The uncertainty underscored the risk entailed by Trump's eagerness to strike deals without nailing down details in advance.
During the talks in Buenos Aires, Trump agreed to delay a scheduled escalation in US tariffs on many Chinese goods, from 10 percent to 25 percent, that had been set to take effect January 1.
But he also warned that tougher tariffs could be on the horizon if the Chinese don't play ball.
John Williams, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of NY, also unnerved investors by telling reporters Tuesday that he supports further Fed rate hikes.
US accusations that China steals intellectual property from American companies are a central issue in President Donald Trump's trade war with Beijing.
China has made no direct mention of specific goods they will start to buy nor given any timeframe for when they may start. "Bob Lighthizer will be working closely with Steve Mnuchin, Larry Kudlow, Wilbur Ross and Peter Navarro on seeing whether or not a REAL deal with China is actually possible". Per the president's post, a delegation of United States officials will hold negotiations with the Chinese side.
"I$3 f a fair deal is able to be made with China, one that does all of the many things we know must be finally done, I will happily sign", he explained. Let the negotiations begin.
While the ceasefire in the trade war is a temporary one, investors seem hopeful that the agreement made at the G20 summit will become a permanent armistice.
Jonathan Gold, an executive at the federation, said most retailers had already ordered goods for the first three months of the year, so the 90-day delay in the tariff hikes won't affect them. "And we're pretty close to agreements on the forced transfer of technology".