President Donald Trump delayed putting extra tariffs on China for a few weeks, but that doesn't mean he's pulling tariffs off the table — and he is prepared to raise them even more if it's deemed necessary, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Thursday.
"The president is a negotiator, and he is prepared to keep these tariffs in place," Mnuchin told CNBC's "Squawk Box" after he was asked if Trump is pushing to make a deal with China before the 2020 presidential election comes up. "He's prepared to raise tariffs if we need to."
Trump is fighting an issue that has been going on for the past 20 years by taking on China, Mnuchin added, "so this isn't an election issue."
Trump on Wednesday delayed the implementation of 5% extra tariffs on Chinese goods as a goodwill gesture upon the request of Vice Premier Liu He. Mnuchin said the Chinese had "grave concern" about the tariffs taking effect on Oct. 1, the day the People's Republic of China celebrates its 70th anniversary.
Trump is trying to do the right thing for Americans, said Mnuchin, and that means rebalancing the relationship with China. Trade deal talks are scheduled to take place in Washington, D.C., in the next few weeks.
Meanwhile, Hong Kong will not be included in the discussions, said Mnuchin.
"That is an issue for the secretary of state to deal with," said Mnuchin. "That's not a trade issue. I think you know the president has urged restraint and wants to make sure there is a peaceful solution to that, but that is definitely not part of trade."
Meanwhile, the Shanghai proceedings earlier this year did not result in the desired progress, said Mnuchin, but Trump wants to reach a good deal.
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