President Donald Trump said June 26 it was “absolutely possible” that an upcoming meeting with Chinese leader Xi Jinping at the G-20 Summit in Japan would yield progress in trade talks, such that he would not impose additional tariffs he had threatened to put on more Chinese goods.
Trump is expected to meet Xi on June 29, the first meeting between the two leaders since trade talks broke down in early May, when the U.S. administration accused the Chinese regime of reneging on commitments negotiated over months of talks.
“It’s absolutely possible … We have to get a good deal,” Trump said in a Wednesday interview with Fox Business Network. “It’s possible that we’ll make a deal but I’m also very happy where we are now.
“We’re taking in a fortune, and frankly [it’s] not a very good thing for China, but it is a good thing for us.”
The president expressed optimism that ultimately a deal will be reached with China, saying, “They want to make a deal more than I do.”
But in the event of another impasse between the two countries, Trump said he would impose additional tariffs.
“I would do additional tariffs, very substantial additional tariffs, if that doesn’t work, if we don’t make a deal,” Trump said.
“My Plan B with China is to take in billions and billions of dollars a month and we’ll do less and less business with them,” he added.
Trump had previously threatened to impose tariffs on an additional $325 billion worth of Chinese goods, but during the interview he indicated that he could consider levying 10 percent duties on them rather than 25 percent, as he had initially stated.
’90 Percent of the Way’
The president’s remarks came on the same morning Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin said the two sides had been close to reaching a deal, before the Chinese side backtracked on agreed-upon concessions in May. This prompted Trump to raise tariffs to 25 percent from 10 percent on $200 billion of Chinese goods.
“We were about 90 percent of the way there [with a deal] and I think there’s a path to complete this,” he said in an interview with CNBC.
Mnuchin did not indicate what the remaining 10 percent of the agreement entailed.
Trump, during the interview with Fox Business, said he told his trade officials to immediately cease talks after learning that the Chinese regime had reneged on commitments.
“We went in and we thought we had a deal … And then they said we’re not going to give you certain things that we agreed on. And I said ‘that’s okay.’ I told my people leave the office right now. Don’t talk, no more talking,” he said. Trump said he then decided to let the tariff rate rise.
Mnuchin also expressed confidence that Trump and Xi would make progress at their upcoming meeting.
“The message we want to hear is that they [China] want to come back to the table and continue because I think there is a good outcome for their economy and the U.S. economy to get balanced trade and to continue to build on this relationship.”