President Donald Trump said he’s “looking at” Chinese companies that trade on the NYSE and Nasdaq exchanges but do not follow U.S. accounting rules.
“We are looking at that very strongly,” Trump told Fox Business host Maria Bartiromo in an interview that aired Thursday morning.
Futures on U.S. stocks declined.
Trump followed up by saying that getting tough on Chinese companies on the exchanges could backfire.
“Let’s say we do that, right,” Trump said. “So what are they going to do? They’re going to move their listing to London or someplace else.”
“Let’s say you want to get tough,” he continued. “I’m the toughest guy. But what happens is, so we say, ‘You’re going to do this and you’re going to follow the rules of the New York Stock Exchange or Nasdaq.’ And what are they going to do? They say, ‘OK, we’ll move to London or we’ll move to Hong Kong.’”
Trump’s comments came amid a series of criticisms of China. He said he’s “very disappointed” in China regarding the coronavirus pandemic, given that it started there. The relationship between the two countries has soured after they signed a phase-one trade agreement, with Trump accusing China of hiding information on how the outbreak started.
“Cheap labor turned out to be really expensive,” Trump said in the interview. The virus “was never even a subject” when the trade deal with China was signed, he said.
Trump did allude to the fact that the board overseeing the Thrift Savings Plan, a retirement-savings plan for federal workers, is deferring a change in the benchmark index it uses for its international fund to a gauge that includes Chinese stocks.
“You know it’s run by the Obama appointments, right?,” Trump said of the savings plan, adding, “We’re going to find out whether or not they’re going to do it very soon, and if they’re not, we’re going to replace them very quickly.”
The Federal Retirement Thrift Investment Board was under pressure from the Trump administration and some lawmakers in Congress to delay the move. The savings plan was scheduled to transfer roughly $50 billion of its international fund to mirror an MSCI All Country World Index, which captures emerging markets including China.
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