President Trump doubled down on his trade war with China on Friday morning, hours after raising tariffs on $200 billion worth of the country’s imports, as he tried to pressure Beijing to agree to America’s trade terms.
In a series of early morning tweets, the president said tariffs on Chinese goods will help the United States and warned China that he would continue to tax their products if they didn’t reach a deal. His comments, which come as the two countries prepare to meet again on Friday, suggest Mr. Trump is willing to prolong his trade war for the foreseeable future.
“Tariffs will make our Country MUCH STRONGER, not weaker. Just sit back and watch!” Mr. Trump added, adding that the Chinese “should not renegotiate deals with the U.S. at the last minute.”
The toughened stance has thrust the world’s two largest economies back into a trade war that just one week ago had seemed on the cusp of ending. Talk between the United States and China fell apart over the weekend, as the United States balked at what it said was China’s attempts to renege on parts of an emerging trade agreement.
In addition to raising tariffs to 25 percent on $200 billion worth of Chinese goods, Mr. Trump said his administration is preparing to tax nearly all of China’s imports. China has threatened to retaliate with its own “countermeasures” which include ending purchases of American farm goods and erecting other non-tariff barriers for companies trying to access the Chinese market.
The two sides will meet again on Friday, but it remains to be seen whether they can salvage a trade agreement. The president said Friday that talks with China continued “in a very congenial manner” but that “there is absolutely no need to rush.”
Mr. Trump continued to insist that his tough approach to China would benefit the United States economy, in part by encouraging more companies to produce goods in America.
Economists have almost uniformly rejected the president’s arguments that tariffs are good for the United States, saying that these taxes reduce economic activity by raising prices for consumers. While the administration has channeled funds to help farmers hurt by the trade war in the past, economists say this process is less efficient than merely opening foreign markets to trade.
“Make no mistake about it, we have already had preliminary discussions in the White House for additional support for farmers if this impasse with China continues,” Mike Pence, the vice president, said in remarks on Thursday in Minnesota.
The United States and China had been nearing a trade deal that would lift tariffs, open the Chinese market to American companies and strengthen China’s intellectual property protections. But discussions fell apart last weekend, when China called for substantial changes to the negotiating text that both countries had been using as a blueprint for a sweeping trade pact.
Businesses large and small to braced for fallout, as tariffs on an additional $200 billion of Chinese goods went into effect at 12:01 a.m. Friday morning. The tariffs will apply only to goods that have left China after that time, effectively giving several weeks’ extension for products that are already on ships on the water.