WASHINGTON: Trade teams from China and the US continue to talk and will meet in September, but tariff increases on Chinese goods set to go in place today will not be delayed, President Donald Trump said yesterday.
The US president, who has alternated between expressing optimism about a trade deal and criticism of China for its economic policies, also said he thought the trade talks had led Beijing to be more restrained in its response to demonstrations in Hong Kong.
A tit-for-tat tariff war between the world’s two largest economies now involves hundreds of billions of dollars of each country’s goods and threatens global economic growth. Uncertainty about when or how the dispute could end has roiled markets and complicated corporations’ long-term investment plans.
“We’re going to win the fight,” Trump said. “We’re having conversations with China, meetings are scheduled, calls are being made. I guess the meeting in September continues to be on, it hasn’t been cancelled,” he said.
The White House has not announced a date for that meeting. Tariffs kick in on an additional $125 billion in Chinese goods over the weekend, and Trump said that had not been changed despite more conciliatory language between the two sides in recent days.
“They’re on,” Trump said of the tariffs. Both sides are maintaining effective communication, China’s Foreign Ministry said earlier.
The US will begin collecting a 15 per cent tariff on an estimated $125bn of Chinese goods today.
There will be no grace period on those tariffs for goods in transit, the US Customs and Border Protection agency said. Tariffs have been imposed on $250bn of Chinese products so far since the trade war began in 2018, and US trade groups and
manufacturers have criticised the policies for hurting profits.
“A lot of badly run companies are trying to blame tariffs,” Trump said.
“It’s not the tariffs, it’s called bad management,” Trump added.
Trump earlier on Friday denied that the tariffs were affecting the US economy.
“We don’t have a Tariff problem (we are reigning in bad and/or unfair players), we have a Fed problem. They don’t have a clue!” the Republican president, seeking re-election in 2020, wrote in a Twitter post.
Trump has criticised the US Federal Reserve and its leadership for not lowering interest rates further to stimulate the economy. Asked if he wanted negative interest rates, he said no.
Trump said General Motors should begin moving its operations in China, where it started joint ventures in 1997, back to the US.
“General Motors, which was once the Giant of Detroit, is now one of the smallest car manufacturers there. They moved major plants to China, before I came into office,” Trump tweeted. “This was done despite the saving help given to them by the USA. Now they should start moving back to America again?”
Bilateral trade talks could be complicated by Beijing’s response to widespread protests in Hong Kong. Trump has tied the two together before, saying earlier this month he believed Chinese President Xi Jinping wanted a trade deal, but that Xi should “quickly and humanely solve the Hong Kong problem.”