President Donald Trump confirmed to reporters on an Air Force One flight to Montana Thursday that tariffs on $34 billion in Chinese goods will go into effect at the end of the night, another $16 billion in two weeks, and another up to $500 billion more if China refuses to change unfair trade practices.
Trump was traveling to Montana for a campaign rally for Senate candidate Matt Rosendale when he spoke with reporters on several issues of the day.
Reporters asked the President to confirm that the tariffs on China would go into effect at the end of Thursday night. He confirmed that tariffs on $34 billion in Chinese goods would indeed go into effect. He added that more are set to go into effect two weeks hence on $16 billion in Chinese goods.
“Then as you know we have 200 billion in abeyance and then after the 200 billion we have 300 billion in abeyance,” he noted.
President Trump announced the tariffs on $50 billion of Chinese goods in April. The Office of U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer released the list of categories of products affected. The tariffs were issued on the basis of combatting unfair Chinese trade practices.
China retaliated against the announcement with threats of a matching volume of tariffs on U.S. goods.
Trump didn’t back down, but rather raised the stakes with the threat of even more tariffs on China. He quickly proposed potential tariffs on another $100 billion in Chinese goods.
Initially Chinese President Xi Jinping appeared to relent with the suggestion that they may lower tariffs on imports of U.S. auto imports to the country. The White House held back on celebrating the move. White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said while Xi’s response was encouraging, the Trump administration needs to see “concrete actions from China.”
Top trade representatives from China and the U.S. have held trade negotiations in recent months. Representatives have traveled to each other’s countries for meetings in Beijing and Washington, DC.
In mid-June Trump acknowledged a lack of progress and refusal of China to change its “unfair” trading practices, including theft of intellectual property. He also acknowledged the multi-hundred billion dollar U.S. trade deficit with China. He thus directed U.S. Trade Representative Lighthizer “to identify $200 billion worth of Chinese goods for additional tariffs at a rate of ten percent.”
Trump further warned at the time that “After the legal process is complete, these tariffs will go into effect if China refuses to change its practices, and also if it insists on going forward with the new tariffs that it has recently announced.” He went on, “If China increases its tariffs yet again, we will meet that action by pursuing additional tariffs on another $200 billion of goods. The trade relationship between the United States and China must be much more equitable.”
Trump told reporters on the Thursday Air Force One trip to Montana, “Ok? So we have 50 plus 200 plus almost 300.”
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