President Donald Trump said Thursday that he might raise tariffs on billions of dollars of Chinese goods to 25% or more if trade talks with Beijing stall.
"I can always do much more or I can do less depending on what happens with respect to a deal," Trump told reporters in comments at the White House. "[This] can be lifted in stages ... and it can be lifted to well beyond 25%, but we're not looking to do that."
Trump disclosed plans earlier Thursday to levy 10% tariffs on Sept. 1 on an additional $300 billion of Chinese imports in a bid to push Beijing to reduce its huge trade imbalance with the United States:
Our representatives have just returned from China where they had constructive talks having to do with a future Trade Deal. We thought we had a deal with China three months ago, but sadly, China decided to re-negotiate the deal prior to signing. More recently, China agreed to...— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 1, 2019
...buy agricultural product from the U.S. in large quantities, but did not do so. Additionally, my friend President Xi said that he would stop the sale of Fentanyl to the United States - this never happened, and many Americans continue to die! Trade talks are continuing, and...— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 1, 2019
...during the talks the U.S. will start, on September 1st, putting a small additional Tariff of 10% on the remaining 300 Billion Dollars of goods and products coming from China into our Country. This does not include the 250 Billion Dollars already Tariffed at 25%...— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 1, 2019
...We look forward to continuing our positive dialogue with China on a comprehensive Trade Deal, and feel that the future between our two countries will be a very bright one!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 1, 2019
Trump has previously said that he believes the Chinese might be stalling on trade talks to see if a Democrat wins the 2020 presidential election and offers more favorable trade terms.
He told reporters Thursday that he thinks Chinese President Xi Jinping "wants to make a deal, but frankly, he's not going fast enough. ... If they don't want to trade with us any more, that would be fine with me. We'd save a lot of money."
The president added that he wasn't fazed by the stock market's swoon earlier Thursday on word of his 10% tariffs.
"Our country is doing very well [economically]," Trump said. "The stock market -- it'll take a little hit, but ... ultimately, it'll be much better because of what I'm doing."
But Putri Pascualy of investment firm PAAMCO Prisma said that "so far, trade-war fights have impacted the U.S. economy more than they've impacted the Chinese economy."
For example, she said the recent U.S. gross domestic product numbers showed a slowdown in business investment, primarily from the U.S. auto industry as manufacturers reportedly delay projects due to trade uncertainties.
By contrast, Pascualy said that Chinese growth statistics "have not shown an impact from tariffs. [There's] little incentive for the Chinese government to bow to the U.S. demands."
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(This article has been updated with additional quotes from President Trump.)