Breaking News

President Trump: 'I am a tariff man'


President Trump on Tuesday declared himself a "Tariff Man," stressing that he will not hesitate to raise tariffs on China if it does not agree to fundamentally change its trade practices.

But Trump also raised the possibility the 90-day trade truce he brokered last weekend with Chinese President Xi Jinping could be extended if the two nations are making progress toward a deal.

"President Xi and I want this deal to happen, and it probably will. But if not remember, I am a Tariff Man," Trump tweeted.

That agreement froze U.S. tariffs while the two countries negotiate a broader trade deal, but Trump's threat suggests he will proceed with plans to raise tariffs on $250 billion in Chinese goods from 10 to 25 percent if talks fail.

"When people or countries come in to raid the great wealth of our Nation, I want them to pay for the privilege of doing so," he continued. "It will always be the best way to max out our economic power. We are right now taking in $billions in Tariffs. MAKE AMERICA RICH AGAIN."

At the same time, the president opened the door to giving China more time to reduce trade barriers and address other irritants if they make good-faith efforts, like purchasing more U.S. goods.

"The negotiations with China have already started. Unless extended, they will end 90 days from the date of our wonderful and very warm dinner with President Xi in Argentina," Trump tweeted. "China is supposed to start buying Agricultural product and more immediately."

Trump's decision to pause the trade war with China at last weekend's Group of 20 summit boosted financial markets, but much remains unknown about what Trump and Xi actually agreed to in Buenos Aires.

White House officials, for example, sent conflicting signals on Monday about whether China agreed to cut tariffs on imported automobiles as Trump claimed the day after the summit.

National Economic Council Director Larry Kudlow said Beijing did agree to reduce auto tariffs, but added that no "specific agreement" on tariff levels or timing had been reached. White House trade adviser Peter Navarro earlier did not confirm if there was any such deal in place.

Kudlow said the U.S. expects China to take "immediate" action to address concerns, such as forced technology transfers, alleged intellectual property theft and cyber hacking in order to pave the way toward a broader deal.

But the aide caused momentary confusion on Monday when he claimed the 90-day truce was set to begin on January 1 instead of December 1. The White House corrected his misstatement hours later.

Trump has tapped U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, a vocal China hawk, to lead the negotiations, supplanting Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, a free-trade advocate who has overseen the U.S.-China economic relationship.

The president tweeted that Lighthizer "will be working closely" with Mnuchin, Kudlow, Navarro and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross.

No comments