Monday 27 January 2020

'I wish I'd slapped even higher tariffs on China' - Trump

US President Donald Trump. Photo: Reuters
US President Donald Trump. Photo: Reuters

The White House has said that when President Donald Trump told reporters yesterday that he had second thoughts about escalating the trade war with China, he meant he wished he had raised tariffs even higher.

Mr Trump, who announced higher tariffs on Chinese goods last week, raised eyebrows during a meeting with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson at the G7 when he responded in the affirmative to questions about second thoughts.

During his meeting with Mr Johnson in France, when asked about second thoughts, Mr Trump responded: "I have second thoughts about everything."


White House spokeswoman Stephanie Grisham however sought to explain the remark.

"His answer has been greatly misinterpreted.

"President Trump responded in the affirmative - because he regrets not raising the tariffs higher," she said in a statement.

On Friday, Mr Trump set an additional 5pc duty on some $550bn in targeted Chinese goods, hours after China unveiled retaliatory tariffs on $75bn worth of US goods.

The moves were the latest in a tit-for-tat trade war between the world's two largest economies that has raised market fears that the world economy will tip into a recession.

On Friday, upset about China's retaliation, the president said he was ordering US companies to find alternatives to doing business in China and move operations back to the US.

It was unclear what Mr Trump could do to legally compel US companies to abandon China. Asked if he would declare a national emergency over the issue, Mr Trump said he had the right to do so but had no plans in the works.

"I have no plan right now. Actually, we're getting along very well with China right now. We're talking. I think they want to make a deal much more than I do," he said.

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