Trump announces more China tariffs as trade talks flounder

August 02, 2019 09:07
Donald Trump has warned that he could raise tariffs on Chinese goods even further if Beijing fails to move quickly to resolve outstanding issues. Photo: Reuters

US President Donald Trump said on Thursday that he will impose a 10 percent tariff on US$300 billion of Chinese imports from Sept. 1 and that he could raise tariffs further if China fails to move more quickly to strike a trade deal, Reuters reports.

Trump made the announcement in a series of Twitter posts after his top trade negotiators briefed him on a lack of progress in US-China talks in Shanghai this week.

“I think President Xi ... wants to make a deal, but frankly, he’s not going fast enough,” Trump said, referring to China's top leader Xi Jinping.

Trump later said if trade negotiations fail to progress he could raise tariffs further - even beyond the 25 percent levy he has already imposed on US$250 billion of imports from China.

Asked about the impact on financial markets, Trump told reporters: “I’m not concerned about that at all.”

The announcement extends Trump’s trade tariffs to nearly all China’s imports into the US and marks an abrupt end to a temporary truce in a trade war, Reuters noted.

Moody’s said the new tariffs will weigh on the global economy at a time when growth is already slowing in the United States, China and the Eurozone.

US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin briefed Trump on their first face-to-face meeting with Chinese officials since Trump met Xi at the G20 summit at the end of June and agreed to a ceasefire in the trade war.

“When my people came home, they said, ‘We’re talking. We have another meeting in early September.’ I said, ‘That’s fine, but until such time as there’s a deal, we’ll be taxing them,” Trump told reporters.

According to a Reuters source, Trump grew frustrated and composed the tweets shortly after Lighthizer and Mnuchin told him China made no significant movement on its position.

Previous negotiations collapsed in May, when US officials accused China of backing away from earlier commitments.

Trump said Beijing had failed to stop sales of the synthetic opioid fentanyl to the US, as it had promised to do. He also said Beijing had not fulfilled a goodwill pledge to buy more American agricultural products.

The new tariffs will jack up prices for consumers at the start of the back-to-school buying season, four large retail trade associations said on Thursday.

“President Trump is, in effect, using American families as a hostage in his trade war negotiations,” said Matt Priest, president of the Footwear Distributors and Retailers of America.

Stephen Lamar, executive vice president of the American Apparel & Footwear Association, said his group’s members were shocked that Trump had not allowed the resumed US-China trade talks to proceed further before acting.

The measure will hit US consumers far harder than Chinese manufacturers, who produce 42 percent of apparel and 69 percent of footwear purchased in the United States, Lamar said.

-- Contact us at [email protected]