President Donald Trump said on Wednesday that China "broke the deal" in trade talks with Washington and would face stiff tariffs if no agreement is reached.
The president did note that top Chinese trade negotiator Liu He is traveling to Washington tomorrow for further talks.
“Good man,” Trump said, “but they broke the deal.”
"You see the tariffs we're doing?" Trump told a rally with supporters in Florida. "Because they broke the deal. ... They broke the deal. So they're flying in. The vice premier tomorrow is flying in, but they broke the deal. 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 has threatened to impose additional tariffs on Chinese goods beginning on Friday after China backtracked on substantial commitments it made during ongoing trade talks, top U.S. trade officials said this week.
Trump tweeted earlier this week that trade talks with China had been moving "too slowly" as Beijing tried to re-negotiate.
That came as a shock to many observers since recent reports had indicated the world's two largest economies could be set to sign an agreement as early as this week.
Trump added that the United States "won't back down until China stops cheating our workers and stealing our jobs."
"That's what's going to happen. Otherwise, we don't have to do business with them," he said. "We can make the product right here if we have to — like we used to."
China said earlier Wednesday that Beijing will retaliate if tariffs on $200 billion of Chinese goods are hiked to 25 percent from 10 percent as Trump had threatened.
"The escalation of trade friction is not in the interests of the people of the two countries and the people of the world," the Chinese Commerce Ministry said. "The Chinese side deeply regrets that if the US tariff measures are implemented, China will have to take necessary countermeasures."
Trump also mocked potential Democratic rivals for the presidency, saying, "We've got some real beauties" and "Let's just pick somebody, please, and let's start this thing."
He added South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg to the mix of potential rivals that have his attention. He told the rally that he would like to see the 37-year-old Buttigieg representing the U.S. against President Xi Jinping of China in trade talks.
He said, "Representing us against Xi in China. That will be great."
Although Trump often claims China is paying the tariffs, most economists say American companies and consumers are bearing most if not all of the cost.
Trump has a long history of attacking China at campaign rallies, although he has adopted a more diplomatic approach and even courted Xi Jinping and senior Chinese officials in official meetings. He has also threatened to label China a currency manipulator, but still hasn’t done so.
Both sides were trying to shape perceptions ahead of what could be a pivotal round of the negotiations. On Wednesday, Trump said the Chinese indicated they wanted to “make a deal” in Washington. Hours later, China’s Ministry of Commerce warned it would strike back with “necessary countermeasures” if the U.S. raises tariffs.
The escalation threat has roiled financial markets, reviving concerns that a trade war could undermine a pickup in the global economy in the second half of the year. The International Monetary Fund cut its 2019 global outlook last month to the slowest pace since the financial crisis, citing trade tensions as a risk to growth.
Despite the tough rhetoric, it’s likely the two nations will eventually cut a deal, said Welles Orr, a senior trade adviser at law firm Miller & Chevalier who served as a senior trade official under George H. W. Bush.
Officials have been locked in intense negotiations for about five months, making progress on issues ranging from Chinese purchases of American goods to enforcement of any agreement. They still face significant gaps including over whether to remove tariffs.
“Both sides are so hungry to get this thing done,” Orr said in an interview. “The incentive is strong for the U.S., because they’ve made such good headway. On the other hand, the Chinese want to show they can be serious negotiators and deliver on their commitments.”
There’s an 80 percent chance the U.S. and China will eventually reach a deal, JPMorgan Chase & Co. Chief Executive Officer Jamie Dimon said Wednesday. “Now we have this whole kind of little bump in the road,” Dimon said in an interview with Bloomberg Television. “Sometimes his tweets don’t pan out to be as bad. I don’t think they’ll get the deal done by Friday.”
Goldman Sachs economists echoed that view. While the sides will probably eventually agree to a deal, there’s only a 10% probability of an agreement by Friday, the firm said in a research note authored by economist Alec Phillips. Goldman puts the likelihood of the U.S. following through on its tariff threat on Friday at 60 perdent.
U.S. stock-index futures tumbled immediately after Trump said China made his remarks in Florida.
S&P 500 Index futures contracts expiring in June fell 0.3 percent as of 9:53 a.m. in Tokyo Dow Jones Industrial Average contracts were down 0.4 percent while those on the Nasdaq 100 were down 0.4 percent.
Material from Reuters and Bloomberg wire services was used in this story.
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