President Trump’s delay on some China tariffs sparked a heated debate between FOX Business host Stuart Varney and White House trade adviser Peter Navarro during an interview on “Varney & Co.” on Wednesday.
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Navarro explained the seven structural issues the U.S. needs to settle with China, but things got heated quickly after Varney asked: “Can you get anything before Dec. 15 and what do you think you might get?”
“Here’s what I can tell you. The negotiations will happen behind closed doors with Amb. Robert Lighthizer and [Treasury] Secretary [Steven] Mnuchin working with their counterparts. Speculating about anything is counterproductive at this point,” Navarro responded.
“What is the possibility of a mini-deal?” the Varney interjected. “Just, for example, a lot of farm purchases from China -- would that be enough for the president to say 'OK, we will lighten up on the tariffs come Dec. 15.' I mean, I can imagine a quid pro quo like that can’t you?”
“Stuart, it’s your job and your guest’s job to speculate,” Navarro said, adding “my job is to tell you that these negotiations will happen behind closed doors and we know what needs to be done in terms of the seven structural issues that need to be addressed, and people just need to be patient.”
Things got even more heated after Varney asked the trade adviser how he feels about being regarded as "the China hardliner."
“Stuart, come on, let’s not go places like that. You’re just being provocative now, needlessly,” Navarro replied.
“No I’m not,” said Varney. “Across the media, you are regarded as the president’s right-hand man on trade and you are the China hardliner -- how you feel about that?”
“Where did you hear that from? You heard that from media which you’re trying to stir up trouble. What we have, I think, is the finest trade team that’s ever been assembled,” said Navarro. “[It’s]the president who makes the decisions and we have very diverse points of view and when the president makes a decision we are all behind him.”
But Varney continued to press Navarro.
“Hold on, I’ve just got to interrupt. We are talking about the seven deadly sins, the seven points which you’ve raised which are really radical change in China is what you’re demanding – OK, big change,” said Varney.
“Why use the word radical?” interjected Navarro.
“OK, but if we don’t get it are we in a trade war forever?” Varney asked.
“If we don’t get China’s structural change the global economy will have lost a great opportunity for the next leg up on growth,” said Navarro.