PANAMA CITY, Fla./WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. President Donald Trump said on Wednesday that China “broke the deal” it had reached in trade talks with the United States, and vowed not to back down on imposing new tariffs on Chinese imports unless Beijing “stops cheating our workers.”
FILE PHOTO: U.S. President Donald Trump waves during joint statements with China's President Xi Jinping at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China, November 9, 2017. REUTERS/Thomas Peter/File Photo
The U.S. Trade Representative’s office announced that tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese goods would increase to 25 percent from 10 percent at 12:01 a.m. (0401) GMT on Friday, right in the middle of two days of meetings between Chinese Vice Premier Liu He and Trump’s top trade officials in Washington.
Speaking to supporters at a rally in Florida on Wednesday, Trump accused China of breaking the deal and that Beijing would pay if no agreement is reached.
“I just announced that we’ll increase tariffs on China and we won’t back down until China stops cheating our workers and stealing our jobs, and that’s what’s going to happen, otherwise we don’t have to do business with them,” Trump told a cheering crowd.
“They broke the deal,” he added. “They can’t do that. So they’ll be paying. If we don’t make the deal, nothing wrong with taking in more than $100 billion a year.”
Trump’s comments fueled a round of selling in Asian markets.
Beijing has announced it would retaliate if tariffs rise.
“The Chinese side deeply regrets that if the U.S. tariff measures are implemented, China will have to take necessary countermeasures,” China’s Commerce Ministry said on its website, without elaborating.
The world’s two largest economies have been embroiled in a tit-for-tat tariff war since July 2018 over U.S. demands that the Asian powerhouse adopt policy changes that would, among other things, better protect American intellectual property and make China’s market more accessible to U.S. companies.
Expectations were recently riding high that a deal could be reached, but a deep rift over the language of the proposed agreement opened up last weekend.
Reuters, citing U.S. government and private-sector sources, reported on Wednesday that China had backtracked on almost all aspects of a draft trade agreement, threatening to blow up the negotiations and prompting Trump to order the tariff increase.
Trump, who has embraced largely protectionist policies as part of his “America First” agenda, warned China on Wednesday that it was mistaken if it hoped to delay a trade deal until a Democrat controlled the White House.