WASHINGTON: US President Donald Trump yesterday said he was in no hurry to sign a trade deal with China as Washington imposed a new set of tariffs on Chinese goods and negotiators ended a second day of talks to try to salvage an agreement.
The US early increased its tariffs on $200 billion in Chinese goods to 25 per cent from 10pc, rattling financial markets already worried the 10-month trade war between the world’s two largest economies could spiral out of control. China is expected to retaliate.
The tariffs went into effect just hours before US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Chinese Vice Premier Liu He held a second day of talks in Washington. The session broke up after about 90 minutes.
“They were constructive discussions. That’s all I can say,” Mnuchin told reporters as he left Lighthizer’s offices near midday.
In a series of morning tweets, Trump defended the tariff hike and said he was in “absolutely no rush” to finalise a deal, adding that the US economy would gain more from the levies than any agreement.
“Tariffs will bring in FAR MORE wealth to our country than even a phenomenal deal of the traditional kind,” Trump said in one of the tweets.
Despite Trump’s insistence that China will absorb the cost of the tariffs, US businesses will pay them and likely pass them on to consumers. Consumer spending accounts for more than two-thirds of US economic activity.
Global stocks, which have fallen this week on the increased US-China tensions, came under renewed pressure yesterday. Major US stock indexes were down more than 1pc and prices of US government debt rose. The US dollar slipped against a basket of currencies.
Trump, who has adopted protectionist policies as part of his “America First” agenda and railed against China for trade practices he labels unfair, said the trade talks, originally due to end yesterday, could drag on beyond this week.
“We will continue to negotiate with China in the hopes that they do not again try to redo deal!” said Trump, who has accused Beijing of reneging on commitments it made during months of negotiations.