Washington: US President Donald Trump has said he is ready to intensify his trade war with China by slapping tariffs on all imports worth $500 billion.
“I’m ready to go to 500,” he told CNBC’s Joe Kernen in a “Squawk Box” interview broadcasted on Friday.
The reference was to the dollar amount of Chinese exports to the US in 2017 — $505.5 billion to be exact, compared to the $129.9 billion worth of Chinese imports from the US, according to the Census Bureau data.
Last week, Washington listed $200 billion worth of additional Chinese products it intends to place under the tariff regime on as soon as September.
The list named more than 6,000 items including food products, minerals and consumer goods such as handbags, to be subjected to a 10 per cent tariff. It is still under public consultation that will go on till the end of August.
The US and China already imposed tit-for-tat tariffs of $34 billion on each other’s goods.
“I’m not doing this for politics, I’m doing this to do the right thing for our country,” Trump said. “We have been ripped off by China for a long time.”
The President said the US was “being taken advantage of” on a number of fronts, including trade and monetary policy. Yet he said he has not pushed the tariffs out of any ill will towards China.
“I don’t want them to be scared. I want them to do well,” he said. “I really like President Xi Jinping a lot, but it was very unfair.”
Trump also said he was told by unspecified Chinese officials that “nobody would ever complain” from past administrations “until you came along – me. They said, ‘Now you’re more than complaining. We don’t like what you’re doing.'”
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.
Trump previously hinted at such an escalation, telling reporters two weeks ago that there was “$300 billion in abeyance” after the $200 billion of goods covered by the latest list, but this is his most explicit threat yet.
Many companies in the US are opposed to the administration’s use of tariffs against China, saying they risk hurting business and the economy without being likely to change behaviour.
European stock markets fell after the interview was broadcast, with the FTSE 100 down 0.2 per cent.