White House adviser Navarro walks back comments China trade deal 'over'





WASHINGTON (Reuters) - White House trade adviser Peter Navarro said on Monday the trade deal with China "continues in place', adding that his earlier comments that the pact was "over" were taken out of context.

U.S. President Donald Trump confirmed in a tweet that the deal was "fully intact".

"Hopefully they will continue to live up to the terms of the agreement," Trump said on Twitter.

Earlier, Navarro told Fox News 'it's over' in an interview when asked about the trade agreement. He said the "turning point" came when the United States learned about the spreading coronavirus only after a Chinese delegation had left Washington following the signing of the Phase 1 deal on Jan. 15.

"It was at a time when they had already sent hundreds of thousands of people to this country to spread that virus, and it was just minutes after wheels up when that plane took off that we began to hear about this pandemic," Navarro said.

Financial markets reacted to the comments, with U.S. stock futures turning negative and risk-sensitive currencies including the Australian dollar falling.

They have since recovered much of the lost ground after Navarro issued a statement saying his comments "have been taken wildly out of context."

"They had nothing at all to do with the Phase I trade deal, which continues in place. 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," he said.

U.S.-China relations have reached their lowest point in years since the coronavirus pandemic that began in China hit the United States hard. President Donald Trump and his administration repeatedly have accused Beijing of not being transparent about the outbreak.

Trump on Thursday renewed his threat to cut ties with China, a day after his top diplomats held talks with Beijing and his trade representative said he did not consider decoupling the U.S. and Chinese economies a viable option.

Navarro has been one of the most outspoken critics of China among Trump's senior advisers.


(Reporting by Eric Beech; Additional reporting by David Brunnstrom; Writing by Lincoln Feast; Editing by Leslie Adler & Shri Navaratnam)

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