United States President, Donald Trump has affirmed that he’s ready to intensify the trade war between the US and China with a tariff on all $500bn of imports from the country.
The President disclosed this in an interview with CNBC channel, “I’m ready to go to 500.” The President’s comment is coming just before the most recent round of US tariffs has had time to take effect.
Last week, Washington listed $200bn (£150bn) worth of additional Chinese products it intends to place tariffs come September. In the list, more than 6,000 items including food products, minerals and consumer goods such as handbags, are to be subject to a 10% tariff.
Although, it is still under public consultation, which will last until the end of August.
President Trump has complained that a strengthening dollar has been hurting US business. He blamed the higher dollar on currency “manipulation” by China and the European Union in a series of tweets. He also criticised the US Federal Reserve for raising interest rates.
“The United States should not be penalized because we are doing so well. Tightening now hurts all we have done,” he said in a tweet.
The US and China have already imposed tit-for-tat tariffs of $34bn on each other’s goods. The President’s threat to raise that to $500bn represents a major escalation.
“We’re down a tremendous amount,” Mr Trump told CNBC, reiterating his view that China’s trade surplus with the US amounts to unfair trading practices.
When asked if the move might cause a stock market sell-off, he responded: “Well, if it does, it does. Look, I’m not doing this for politics. I’m doing this to do this right thing for our country.”
The US also wants China to stop practices that allegedly encourage transfer of intellectual property – design and product ideas – to Chinese companies, such as requirements that foreign firms share ownership with local partners to access the Chinese market.
Companies in the US have opposed the administration’s use of tariffs against China. According to some companies, they risk hurting business and the economy without being likely to change behaviour.
Meanwhike, the European stock markets fell after the interview was broadcasted, with the FTSE 100 down 0.4% in afternoon trade.
Chief market analyst for Markets.com, Neil Wilson holds that, “It’s proof, if it were needed, that the president is prepared to go all the way in the trade war to exact concessions from China, which simply cannot match the US firepower.”
“In light of the EU and others saying they are ready to respond to tariffs on cars, the stakes are rising fast. Whether we get to the point where there is a full-blown trade war remains debatable, but the odds are shortening by the day.”