President Trump bared his brass knuckles again in a trade spat with China, threatening to raise tariffs on billions of dollars in imports because talks to resolve the dispute are going “too slowly.”
For months the White House has suggested a deal was near, but several new tweets by the president showed his frustration with the pace of negotiations.
The president said he would lift tariffs on $200 billion in Chinese imports to 25% from 10% starting on Friday. He also threatened to apply a 25% tariff to another $325 billion in imports that have been left alone so far.
The U.S. imported a record $539.5 billion in goods from China in 2018, including TVs, computers, cell phones, clothes and chemicals. The U.S. is a net importer from China in most market segments except for agriculture.
The U.S. shipped $120.3 billion in goods to China last year, down from almost $130 billion in 2017, Census trade figures showed.
The big dropoff came in farm crops, with the Chinese boycotting Midwestern soy to protest U.S. tariffs. Agricultural exports fell to $5.9 billion last year from $15.9 billion in 2017.
The U.S. in 2018 ran a $40.5 billion surplus with China in services, largely reflecting spending by Chinese tourists and exchange students.
Trump promised during his presidential campaign and after he entered the White House that he would seek to reduce massive U.S. trade deficits with China.
The U.S. has run large deficits with China for years and in some cases no longer produces certain goods such as consumer electronics that are popular with Americans. It won’t be easy, and it might even be impossible, to reduce the gap much any time soon.
The trade dispute has hurt the Chinese economy far more than the U.S., but a long-lasting standoff between the two largest economies in the world could result in lasting damage to the global economy if it metastasizes.
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