President Donald Trump will not relent in the brewing trade war with China that’s likely to result in even more tariffs and retaliation in the days to come, White House trade adviser Peter Navarro said today.
Trump wants two things from China, Navarro said: The first is an annual $200 billion reduction of China’s trade surplus with the U.S. The second is assurances that China will stop appropriating U.S. intellectual property. Until that happens, the U.S. will continue to press China through increasing tariffs.
“To be clear, President Trump has given China every chance to change its aggressive behavior," Navarro told reporters.
Trump announced his plan on Friday to hit China with $50 billion worth of tariffs that would start to go into effect on July 6. Soon after, China announced its own tariffs of $50 billion, much of which would be targeted at U.S. agricultural commodities. On Monday night, Trump threatened to throw additional tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese goods and, if China retaliated again, add another $200 billion in tariffs on top of that.
That would put tariffs on $450 billion of China’s roughly $505 billion worth of exports to the U.S.
It looks like it may come to that. A spokesperson for China’s Ministry of Commerce (MOFCOM) said today the country would have no choice but to retaliate again by “combining quantitative and qualitative” sanctions on the U.S.
The U.S. only exports about $130 billion worth of goods – much of them agricultural – to China, so that limits China’s ability to match U.S. tariffs by quantity. If China hits back by sanctioning U.S. businesses operating in the country, Navarro said that would trigger the second round of tariffs on $200 billion worth of imports.
The MOFCOM spokesperson, quoted by the government-run Xinhua News, called U.S. actions “blackmail.”
"The trade war waged by the United States is against both the law of the market and the development trend of today's world,” the spokesperson said. “It undermines the interests of the Chinese and American people, the interests of companies and the interests of the people all over the world."
Any punishment of U.S. companies in China would be taken the same as tariffs on U.S. exports, Navarro said.
“If China … takes any actions to harm our companies operating in China or otherwise tries to harm any corporate entity – farmer, rancher, whatever – those constitute actions which are unacceptable as well,” Navarro said. “This president will have the backs of Americans whether they’re here on a farm in Iowa or in Shanghai trying to operate some kind of operation there.”