While the White House says they are still deliberating on the details of adding US$200 billion in Chinese imports to a list of tariff targets, President Trump said Friday that there is more where that came from.
“I hate to say this, but behind that there is another US$267 billion ready to go on short notice if I want,” Trump was reported by The Wall Street Journal as saying on Air Force One. “That changes the equation.”
Should the US slap tariffs on an additional amount of Chinese goods of that scale, the total value subjected to the duties would be around that of total imports to the US from China. The Trump administration has already imposed tariffs on US$50 billion worth of shipments from its largest trading partner, with the US$200 billion tranche expected to come soon.
While Trump was waving his proverbial stick, Top White House economic advisor Larry Kudlow made a paltry attempt to offer something of a carrot on Friday, saying that the US is up for talks and that there is “constant communication.”
“It’s never too late to make good trade policy,” Kudlow said in an interview on Bloomberg television.
When asked whether President Trump is willing to meet in person with his Chinese counterpart, Kudlow speculated: “The UN is coming up […] the G20 in Argentina […] those things are possible.”
“I’ve never known President Trump not to want to talk […] and he continues his friendship with President Xi.”
The Dow Jones Industrial Average and the S&P 500 both dropped sharply after news of the president’s comments, before recovering most losses by late afternoon.