Washington: President Donald Trump said he was ready to impose tariffs on all $500 billion of goods the US imports from China, remarks that sent financial markets retreating and threatened to escalate a trade clash with the Asian giant.
“We’re down a tremendous amount,” Trump said in an interview about trade imbalances with China on CNBC broadcast on Friday. “I’m ready to go to 500.”
Around $505 billion of Chinese goods came into the US in 2017, leading to a trade deficit of nearly $376 billion, US government data shows.
The magnitude of the imbalance has continued into 2018, with Chinese imports totaling $205 billion in the first five months of the year and the deficit reaching $152 billion.
US stock index futures, already down on trade worries, fell further after the interview.
Trump is taking a more aggressive, protectionist posture on trade than his recent predecessors, sparking retaliatory measures from countries around the world and igniting disputes on multiple fronts.
Earlier this month, the US imposed tariffs on $34 billion of Chinese imports. In return, China levied taxes on the same value of US products.
The US is currently disputing retaliatory tariffs by China, the European Union, Canada, Mexico and Turkey, in response to new US duties on steel and aluminum.
When asked about the stock market possibly falling if the US imposes duties on such a large amount of goods, Trump said: “If it does, it does. Look, I’m not doing this for politics.”
Along with pressing Chinese leaders to shrink the deficit, Trump’s administration has accused China of engaging in unfair trade practices by forcing American investors to turn over technologies to Chinese firms.
Meanwhile, Donald Trump on Friday attacked China and the EU for keeping their currencies artificially low to gain a trade advantage, while again blasting the Federal Reserve for raising interest rates.
In a pair of tweets, Trump said “China, the European Union and others have been manipulating their currencies … while the US is raising rates while the dollar gets stronger and stronger with each passing day.” That is “taking away our big competitive edge.”After criticizing the Fed in an interview, Trump again lambasted the central bank, saying “Tightening now hurts all that we have done.”