Trump regrets not raising tariffs on China higher: White House

August 26, 2019 09:20
Donald Trump, pictured here during a working session of the G7 Summit in France, has signaled that he won’t follow through on a demand that US firms find ways to close operations in China. Pool photo via Reuters

President Donald Trump wishes he had raised tariffs on Chinese goods even higher last week, the White House said on Sunday, Reuters reports.

Trump raised eyebrows on the sidelines of the G7 summit when he responded in the affirmative to questions from reporters on whether he had any second thoughts about raising tariffs on Chinese goods by 5 percent.

“President Trump responded in the affirmative - because he regrets not raising the tariffs higher,” White House spokeswoman Stephanie Grisham said in a statement afterward that sought to clarify the president’s remarks.

Trump announced the additional duty on some US$550 billion in targeted Chinese goods on Friday, hours after China unveiled retaliatory tariffs on US$75 billion worth of American goods.

The move was the latest round in a tit-for-tat trade war between the world’s two largest economies that has damaged global growth, upset allies, and raised market fears that the world economy will tip into a recession.

It came just hours after Trump said he was ordering US companies to find “alternatives” to China, including closing operations there and moving production to the United States.

US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Trump could order companies out of China under the International Emergency Economic Powers Act if he declares a national emergency.

Trump indicated on Sunday that he was not planning such a step at this time, however.

“I could declare a national emergency. I think when they steal and take out, and — intellectual property theft, anywhere from $300 billion to $500 billion a year, and where we have a total loss of almost a trillion dollars a year ... in many ways, that’s an emergency,” he said.

“I have no plan right now. Actually, we’re getting along very well with China right now. We’re talking,” Trump said.

Mnuchin said the president does want US businesses to start looking to shift investments away from China, saying they would be better off in the event the US-China trade war lasts for a long time.

“We want them to be in places where they’re trading partners that respect us and trade with us fairly,” he said on the “Fox News Sunday” program.

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