He eventually settled on a 5% increase in tariff rates on about $550b worth of Chinese goods.
According to CNBC, President Trump wanted to double tariff rates on Chinese goods after Beijing’s latest retaliation in the ongoing trade war, before settling on a smaller increase.
The president was allegedly furious after he found out that China had formalized plans to introduce duties on $75b worth of US products in response to new tariffs from Washington. His initial reaction, communicated to aides on a White House trade call held that day, was to suggest doubling existing tariffs, according to three people briefed on the matter.
Treasury secretary Steven Mnuchin and U.S. trade representative Robert Lighthizer subsequently enlisted senior business figures to call the president and warn him about the impact such a move would have on the stock market and the US economy.
In the following days, both Mnuchin and White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham admitted that Trump’s only regret was not raising tariffs higher.
Earlier this week, Trump suggested he could take even more drastic action to crack down on China’s trade practices if he wins re-election next year without a new trade agreement in place: “Deal would get MUCH TOUGHER!” he wrote in a tweet.
The trade war has contributed to investor concerns about a global economic slowdown. New economic data released on Tuesday did not assuage those concerns: the US manufacturing sector contracted in August for the first time in three years.
US and Chinese negotiators are reportedly set to meet in September, though they have not as yet set a specific date for the meeting.