VOA State Department Correspondent Nike Ching contributed to this report.
WHITE HOUSE — The trade war between Washington and Beijing further escalated Friday.
The United States will additionally hike tariffs on Chinese products, President Donald Trump announced.
Terming China’s announcement Friday of additional tariffs on $75 billion worth of American products “politically motivated,” Trump said he is retaliating by increasing the 25% tax, effective October 1, on $250 billion on goods of products from China to 30%.
Additionally, Trump announced on Twitter, the tariffs on the remaining $300 billion of Chinese goods to be imposed September 1 will rise from the 10% level to 15%.
Trade talks between the United States and China are tentatively set to resume next month in Washington.
VOA asked Trump Friday night if he still wanted those negotiations to proceed.
“At this moment they want to do that,” the president replied before he boarded the Marine One helicopter for the start of his trip to the G-7 leaders’ summit in France. “I’m always open to talks.”
Ordering companies to leave China
Hours earlier, Trump declared he is “ordering” American companies “to immediately start looking for alternatives to China” after Beijing announced it is raising tariffs on $75 billion of U.S. goods and resuming 25% tariffs on American autos, in retaliation against Trump’s September 1 duty increase.
In a series of tweets, the U.S. president said the companies should bring their manufacturing home.
Asked, as he departed the White House, under what authority he could do that, Trump told reporters to look up the International Emergency Economic Powers Act, enacted in 1977, which authorizes the president to regulate international commerce after declaring a national emergency in response to extraordinary threats originating outside the United States.
“I have the absolute right to do that,” Trump stated.
The escalating trade war unsettled markets Friday. The Dow Jones Industrial Average of the New York Stock Exchange closed down more than 620 points, a loss of 2.37%.
Trump, before boarding the helicopter Friday night, brushed off the plunge in share prices, saying that since the time of his November 2016 election “we’re up 50 percent or more.”
Trump, earlier on Twitter, also criticized Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell, both before and after he made a closely watched speech at the institution’s annual symposium in the state of Wyoming.
Powell indicated that the Federal Reserve, which cut interest rates last month for the first time in a decade, is willing to make another reduction to keep the U.S. economy growing, but he did not specify the amount or the timing of such action.
That angered the president, who tweeted: “As usual, the Fed did NOTHING! It is incredible that they can speak’ without knowing or asking what I am doing, which will be announced shortly.” The president then added: “My only question is, who is our bigger enemy, Jay Powell or (Chinese Communist Party) Chairman Xi?”
Xi is also China’s president.
Trump has repeatedly referred to Xi as a friend and touted his relationship with Xi as a way to achieve significant breakthroughs on trade and other major issues.
China’s commerce ministry, earlier Friday, stated it will be imposing additional tariffs of 5% or 10% on a total of 5,078 products originating from the U.S., including agricultural products, crude oil, small aircraft and cars.
Chinese tariffs on some U.S. products would take effect September 1 and on others December 15.
“America’s manufacturing workers will bear the brunt of these retaliatory tariffs, which will make it even harder to sell the products they make to customers in China,” said Jay Timmons, the president and chief executive officer of the National Association of Manufacturers.
“While we share the president’s frustration, we believe that continued, constructive engagement is the right way forward,” said Myron Brilliant, executive vice president and head of international affairs at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. “Time is of the essence. We do not want to see a further deterioration of U.S.-China relations.”
Rick Helfenbein, president and CEO of the American Apparel and Footwear Association, said: “This is not how you negotiate. This is tit-for-tat exercise that is hurting Americans and distracting from the task at hand — creating a sustainable trade agreement that solves long-standing and deep-seated issues.”
“The administration needs to rise above the fray and start negotiating for the American people,” Helfenbein added.
Analysts are expressing fears that if there is no truce soon in the trade war with China, it could lead to a recession in the United States.
However, Trump is holding firm to his policies.
“Our economy is doing great. We’re having a little spat with China and we’ll win it ...” he said Friday night. Adding, “I think that our tariffs are working out very well for us, people don’t understand that yet...”
“We’re not going to lose close to a trillion dollars a year to China,” Trump told reporters Friday. “This is more important than anything else right now, just about, that we’re working on.”