By Lalit K Jha
Washington, May 13 (PTI) US President Donald Trump has defended his tariff policy and blamed China for breaking the trade deal, asserting that the negotiations are “right where we want to be” as the world’s two largest economies remain locked in a bruising trade war after the latest round of talks ended without an agreement.
After the near collapse of trade talks with China last week, Trump on Friday imposed punitive duties on USD 200 billion worth of Chinese imports, raising them to 25 per cent from 10 per cent, and asked for a similar increase on tariff on the rest of the Chinese import of over USD 300 billion.
In a series of tweets, Trump on Sunday indicated toughening of his stand against China.
“We are right where we want to be with China. Remember, they broke the deal with us and tried to renegotiate,” Trump said, justifying his decision to impose a hefty tax on Chinese products, including fish, handbags, clothing and footwear.
The new taxes would result in hefty revenue to the US, he said.
“We will be taking in tens of billions of dollars in tariffs from China. Buyers of product can make it themselves in the USA (ideal), or buy it from non-tariffed countries…,” he said.
“We will then spend (match or better) the money that China may no longer be spending with our Great Patriot Farmers (Agriculture), which is a small percentage of total tariffs received, and distribute the food to starving people in nations around the world! GREAT! #MAGA,” Trump said.
The US President later asserted that China’s sudden change in policy was mainly because it thought that leaders from the opposition Democratic party would be able to replace him in the White House after the 2020 presidential elections.
By doing so, China was dreaming, he said.
“China is dreaming that sleepy Joe Biden, or any of the others, gets elected in 2020. They love ripping off America!,” Trump said.
Appearing on Fox News, Trump’s top economic advisor Larry Kudlow said the consumers of the United States would pay the increased taxes.
“It’s not China that pays the tariffs, it’s the American importers, the American companies that pay what, is in fact, a tax increase,” he said.
“Fair enough. In fact, both sides will pay in these things, and of course it depends,” he said when asked “if it’s a tariff on goods coming into the country, the Chinese aren’t paying?”
Congressman Warren Davidson sought to impose sanctions on China on Sunday for walking away from good faith negotiations.
“If China walks away from good faith negotiations, we could minimise collateral damage to US consumers and economy by using targeted sanctions against specific companies using subsidies, dumping, or stolen IP. Multiply allies instead of multiplying enemies,” Davidson said.
Trump new move to raise tariffs came as China’s top trade negotiator, Vice Premier Liu He, on Friday concluded his two days of trade talks with the US team led by US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer.
The 11th round of talks in Washington ended Friday with no deal, but the Chinese vice premier said the negotiations had not broken down.
“Negotiations have not broken down. Quite the opposite. I think they are normal. Small setbacks are inevitable in bilateral negotiations. Looking ahead, we are cautiously optimistic about the future, ” Liu was quoted as saying by the Hong Kong-based South China Morning Post.
China believes tariffs are the starting point of the bilateral trade disputes. If a deal is to be reached, the tariffs should all be eliminated. This is the first point, Liu said.
The second is related China’s promise to buy more goods from the US, he said
Trump has been demanding that China reduce the massive trade deficit which last year climbed to over USD 539 billion. He is also pressing for verifiable measures for protection of intellectual property rights (IPR), technology transfer and more access to American goods to Chinese markets.