WASHINGTON - President Donald Trump warned China Saturday that it should strike a trade deal with the United States now, otherwise an agreement would be “far worse for them if it has to be negotiated in my second term.”
Washington and Beijing are locked in a trade battle that has seen mounting tariffs, sparking fears the dispute will damage the global economy.
Two days of talks ended Friday with no deal. China’s top negotiator said the two sides would meet again in Beijing at an unspecified date, but warned that China would make no concessions on “important principles.”
Accusations and higher tariffs
Trump had accused Beijing of reneging on its commitments in trade talks and ordered new punitive duties, which took effect Friday, on $200 billion worth of Chinese imports, raising them to 25 percent from 10 percent.
He then cranked up the heat further, ordering a tariff hike on almost all remaining imports — $300 billion worth, according to US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer — from the world’s second-biggest economy.
Those tariffs would not take effect for months, after a period of public comment.
Trump also said Saturday that firms could easily avoid additional costs by producing goods in the United States.
“Such an easy way to avoid Tariffs? Make or produce your goods and products in the good old USA. It’s very simple!” he tweeted, echoing a similar message he sent Friday, and even retweeted.
Poised for a deal
Only a week earlier, the United States and China had seemed poised to complete a sweeping agreement.
Washington wants Beijing to tighten its intellectual property protections, cut its subsidies to state-owned firms and reduce the yawning trade deficit; China wants an end to tariffs as part of a “balanced” deal.
While supporters laud Trump as a tough negotiator, free-trade-minded Republicans have warned that the tariffs could do real damage to the economy, and many farmers, including Trump supporters, say the tariffs have hit their bottom line.
As the trade war spread, China imposed $110 billion in duties on farm exports and other US goods.
Republican Senator Chuck Grassley, from the farm state of Iowa, cautiously welcomed the new tariffs but urged negotiators to reach a quick solution “so we can avoid prolonged tariffs, which we know have an impact on the US economy.”