President Donald Trump said he’s ready to impose tariffs on an additional $267b in Chinese goods on short notice.
The implementation of tariffs on $200b of products from China “will take place very soon depending on what happens,” Trump told reporters on Friday while aboard Air Force One. “I hate to do this, but behind that there is another $267b ready to go on short notice if I want.”
US stocks erased gains after Trump’s remarks, with the S&P 500 Index falling by 0.3% to the lowest in two weeks by 1:26pm in New York.
The latest tariffs threats, if Trump follows through, would more than cover the value of all goods the US buys from China, according to US government data from last year. The US imported $505b of Chinese products in 2017, Census Bureau figures show.
The Trump administration has already slapped duties on $50b of Chinese exports since July, which spurred immediate in-kind retaliation from Beijing. China has said it would be forced to retaliate to all of the US’s tariff measures, fanning concerns that a deepening trade war could dent the global economic outlook.
Members of the public had until last Thursday to comment on the administration’s plan to slap tariffs on $200b of Chinese goods, including toys and children’s products, paving the way for Trump to announce the tariffs as early as Friday this week.
There’s no final decision on that round of tariffs as the U.S. Trade Representative’s office continues to “run their process,” White House deputy press secretary Lindsay Walters said on Friday.
The president’s tough line contrasted with remarks earlier from White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow, who left open the possibility of a negotiated solution to the trade dispute, but said China must show it’s open to compromise.
While China’s response to US demands has been unsatisfactory, Trump is still speaking to Chinese President Xi Jinping, and would be open to meeting in person, said Kudlow, director of the White House’s National Economic Council. An opportunity could take place when world leaders gather at the UN General Assembly in New York this month and the Group of 20 summit in Argentina in November, he said.
“It’s never too late to make good trade policy,” said Larry. “But I will say this: the world trading system is broken.” Trump is “dead serious” in his determination to push China to reform its trade policies, he added.
Steve Pasierb, CEO of the Toy Association, took to Twitter to voice his dismay at the announcement.
Another $267 Billion?! #Tariffs on 100 percent of all goods purchased from China will amount to nothing more than a #tax on American families and erode any benefits from tax cuts that average consumers have enjoyed. #TradeWar #Retail #jobs #toys #TheWrongApproach #TradeWorks
— Steve Pasierb (@StevePasierb) September 7, 2018