President Donald Trump emphasized Monday the U.S. could employ tariffs on yet another $325 billion in Chinese goods while revealing that decision has yet to be made.
“China has been taking advantage of the United States for many, many years, I’m not just talking about in the Obama administration. You can go back long before that and it’s been taking out 400, 500, 600 billion dollars a year out of the United States,” President Trump said while sitting with Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban ahead of their meeting at the White House Monday.
“We can’t let that happen. We’re in a very strong position, our economy’s been very powerful, their’s has not been. We’ve gone up a lot since our great election in 2016,” the president added.
“We’re taking in right now hundreds of billions of dollars, we’ve taken in billions of dollars of tariffs,” said Trump of U.S. tariffs on China that raised from ten to 25 percent last Friday on $200 billion in Chinese goods. That brought the total of Chinese goods hit with the 25 percent tariff to $250 billion. He added that there is room for tariffs on another $325 billion in Chinese goods should the U.S. decide to do so.
The president said the U.S. has never had such a tariff before, but that this contributed significantly to the high 3.2 percent first quarter U.S. GDP. He added that the first quarter historically sees a lower GDP than the other three quarters of the year.
“We’ve been taken advantage of on all of our trade deals, practically,” said Trump. “This is a very positive step. I love the position we’re in,” he said, acknowledging China’s increase in retaliatory tariffs.
The president added that the U.S. will likely use some of the increase in tariff income to bolster farmers who will likely be targeted by China’s tariff increases. The Trump administration issued such assistance to farmers during a previous round of China’s retaliatory tariff increases.
“We do much less business with China than they do with us,” said Trump.
President Trump encouraged manufacturers hit by the tariffs to move manufacturing to the U.S. or to secondarily consider buying from a country not hit by the same level of tariffs. He named Vietnam as such a country.
“We’re in a very good position and I think it’s only going to get better,” said Trump. He added that he will be meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping at the G20 Japan in late June.
“We had a deal with China. It was 95 percent there and then my representatives, as you know, Secretary [Steve] Mnuchin and Bob Lighthizer, Ambassador Lighthizer, they went to China, and they were told the things that were fully agreed to we’re not going to get anymore, they’re going to unagree to them,” Trump explained. “That’s not acceptable.”
He recounted telling the secretary and U.S. Trade Representative to respond by putting on the tariffs which would go into effect Friday.